Media alert: Apple retakes the lead in the wearable band market in Q3 2017

          

Palo Alto, Shanghai, Singapore and Reading (UK) – Tuesday, 14 November 2017


Apple retook the lead in the wearable band market in Q3 2017, with shipments of 3.9 million. It posted its strongest quarter so far in 2017, thanks to the release of the Apple Watch Series 3. Xiaomi and Fitbit, which shipped 3.6 million and 3.5 million wearable bands respectively, have also bucked the trend of the traditionally weaker Q3 by posting quarter-on-quarter growth. But despite the increase in smartwatch shipments, waning demand for basic bands meant the overall wearable band market fell 2% to reach 17.3 million units. 

“Strong demand for the LTE-enabled Apple Watch Series 3 has dispelled service providers’ doubts about the cellular smartwatch not appealing to customers,” said Canalys Analyst Jason Low. Despite strong shipments, the Apple Watch Series 3 did not reach its full potential in Q3. It suffered limited availability as demand outstripped supply in major markets. Service providers had underestimated demand for the new Apple Watch. “In China, customers with high expectations are being driven away by the service disruption fiasco in the country. Besides bringing in more stock, operators should work on improving their remote service provisioning systems to cater for the expected higher demand in Q4,” said Low. According to Canalys estimates, 800,000 Apple Watch units shipped in Q3 were cellular-enabled.

Samsung, Apple and Huawei, the top three smartphone vendors by volume in Q3 2017, have positioned smartwatches to complement their premium smartphones. “While health features continue to be the core focus, vendors are striving to increase the value of smartwatches by prioritizing design and highlighting key features,” said Canalys Research Analyst Mo Jia. Smartwatches are vital for improving the overall brand image for smartphone vendors looking to enter the premium segment. “Apple and Samsung are increasing user stickiness and brand loyalty by adopting an ecosystem strategy, which includes wearables and audio accessories. Smartphone vendors must reevaluate their respective smartwatch strategies to derive more value beyond smartphone growth.”

Vendors are expecting a stronger Q4 this year, with new smartwatches highlighting improved health-tracking features and longer battery life, on top of better and slimmer designs. Q4 performance will be crucial to assess consumers’ reaction toward the emerging trend of fashionable smartwatches that prioritize form rather than function. “Google must show stronger commitment to help Android Wear vendors, which are now mostly watchmakers and fashion brands, to further improve the user experience and app ecosystem. Otherwise, the market will see further consolidation, as vendors such as Apple, Samsung and Fitbit dominate with their watch software platforms,” added Low.

For more information, please contact:

Canalys EMEA: +44 118 984 0520
Ben Stanton: ben_stanton@canalys.com +44 118 984 0525

Canalys APAC (Shanghai): +86 21 2225 2888
Mo Jia: mo_jia@canalys.com +86 21 2225 2812
Jason Low: jason_low@canalys.com +86 21 2225 2816

Canalys APAC (Singapore): +65 6671 9399
TuanAnh Nguyen: tuananh_nguyen@canalys.com +65 6671 9384
Lucio Chen: lucio_chen@canalys.com +65 6657 9301

Canalys Americas: +1 650 681 4488
Vincent Thielke: vincent_thielke@canalys.com +1 650 656 9016

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Canalys APAC: Singapore Tel: +65 6671 9399 or
Shanghai, China Tel: +86 21 2225 2888
Canalys Americas: Palo Alto, USA Tel: +1 650 681 4488
Canalys EMEA: Reading, UK Tel: +44 118 984 0520