Total shipment volumes for the wearable market reached new records both in the forth quarter of 2017 and the full year. Total volumes for the quarter reached 37.9 million units, up 7.7% from the 35.2 million units shipped in the same quarter a year ago. For the full year, total wearable device shipments reached 115.4 million units, up 10.3% from the 104.6 million units shipped in 2016.
"The 10.3% year-over-year growth in 2017 is a marked decline from the 27.3% growth we saw in 2016," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team. "The slowdown is not due to a lack of interest – far from it. Instead, we saw numerous vendors, relying on older models, exit the market altogether. At the same time, the remaining vendors – including multiple start-ups – have not only replaced them, but with devices, features, and services that have helped make wearables more integral in people's lives. Going forward, the next generation of wearables will make the ones we saw as recently as 2016 look quaint."
"Interest in smartwatches continues to grow and Apple is well-positioned to capture demand," added Llamas. "User tastes have become more sophisticated over the past several quarters and Apple pounced on the demand for cellular connectivity and streaming multimedia. What will bear close observation is how Apple will iterate upon these and how the competition chooses to keep pace."
"Although prices for individual products has slowly declined, consumer preferences have shifted to more sophisticated devices and towards well recognized brands. It's due to this that the wearables market has seen healthy double-digit growth in average selling prices since 2016," said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. "Combined with the potential to sell added software and services, wearables are proving to be an increasingly lucrative market for brands and service providers."
Apple moved past Fitbit and Xiaomi to capture 21% of the wearables market in 4Q17. More significantly it captured 60.99% of the smartwatch market for 4Q17 and 53.01% for 2017.
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