Apple has retaken the lead of the global wearables market, as per research firm Canalys. The numbers for Q3 2017 suggest that Apple shipped 3.9 million units of the Apple Watch, which is the company’s strongest quarter ever for the Watch. Xiaomi, which led the global wearables space briefly, has slipped down to the second place, shipping 3.6 million wearables, while Fitbit is in the third spot after shipping 3.5 million units.
One of the reasons for the Apple Watch doing well in the quarter is the boost received with the launch of the Apple Watch Series 3 in September. Apple also released the new WatchOS 4 operating system for all Watch generations. The Watch Series 3 is available in Wi-Fi only avatars as before in most markets, while some countries get the LTE variant as well that uses a separate data connection which gives it more capabilities even when a phone isn’t paired. According to Canalys estimates, as many as 800,000 units of the Apple Watch shipped in Q3 were cellular-enabled. The Watch Series 3 also meant that prices of the previous generations of the Watch were reduced at various stores, both online and offline, making them an even more attractive proposition.
Smartphone makers Huawei and Samsung also make their own series of smartwatches, some of which are designed to rival the Apple Watch, but have had to contend with 6% and 5% share, respectively. While health and fitness tracking features are something many buy a fitness band or a smartwatch for, there is also the aspect of the software, the ease of pairing with the phone, apps that can be run on the wearable and battery life which also constitutes a part of the buying decision.
Incidentally, this is the very same quarter where Google, which makes the Android Wear smartwatch platform to rival the Apple Watch, has been completely silent on the future of its smart watches. “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,” says Jason Low, analyst, Canalys.