The burst of the wearable bubble may have been overstated — on a global scale, at least. The category has been struggling here in the U.S., but internationally, it’s still seeing growth. Wearables are up eight-percent year-over-year, according to new numbers from Canalys — not exactly exponential, but at least things are trending in the right direction.
It’ll come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the space with any regularity that Xiaomi is leading the way here. Last week Strategy Analytics noted that the Chinese company had taken charge of global shipments for the first time ever, following Fitbit’s middling financial report, and that assessment is reflected in these numbers.
Canalys’s numbers (which are a bit lower than SA’s) put Xiaomi in first place at 3.5 million shipments, just edging Fitbit’s 3.3 million. What’s more notable than the photo finish however, is Fitbit’s on-going struggles, which find the company dropping a full 34-percent year over year. It’s an almost complete reversal of last year’s 36-percent year over year growth. Apple’s number also dropped in the report, with company’s smartwatch moving to third place at 2.7 million shipments.
Price has been the primary factors driving Xiaomi’s growth in recent years. The company sells trackers for as low as $15 here in the States — something Fitbit and Apple can’t come close to competing with. Fitbit’s lowest priced tacker, the clip-on Zip, retails for $60, and Apple essentially only sells a single product in the category.
Fitbit’s been putting a positive face on all of this, of course. The company anticipates a reversal of fortunes with the upcoming launch of its long-awaited smartwatch. Fitbit’s Apple Watch competitor is the result of multiple high profile acquisitions, including Pebble, Vector and Coin. The company has pumped a lot of time and money into the product, which has reportedly been plagued by numerous delays.
It’s a strategy that finds Fitbit growing in a premium direction, away from the low end of the market where Xiaomi has found a majority of its success. Though, to be fair, Canalys does anticipate continued global growth in the smartwatch category. The firm expects that upward movement to be fueled by increased availability of cellular enabled devices, like the rumored upcoming Apple Watch.
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