Mon, Mar 05, 2018 - Page 15 News List

Apple surges ahead in wearables with watch

LOOKING QUAINT:The overall slowdown does not come from lack of interest, but a change in the industry, with start-ups taking over with exciting new devices

AFP, WASHINGTON

Strong holiday season sales of Apple Inc’s newest smartwatch last year propelled the California tech giant into the lead in wearable tech, a market tracker said on Thursday last week.

Apple jumped to the front of the wearables pack in the fourth quarter following the release of the Apple Watch 3, and also placed at the top of the market for the full year, a report by the research firm International Data Corp (IDC) said.

WELL-POISED

While official sales figures for the Apple Watch are not disclosed, IDC estimated that Apple sold about 8 million in the final three months of last year, representing 21 percent of all wearables.

That pushed Apple ahead of US rival Fitbit Inc, which had a 14.2 percent share of wearables in the quarter, and China’s Xiaomi Corp (小米) with 13 percent.

“Interest in smartwatches continues to grow and Apple is well-positioned to capture demand,” IDC research director Ramon Llamas said.

“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,” Llamas added.

For all of last year, Apple sold an estimated 17.7 million smartwatches, accounting for 15.3 percent of the wearable tech market, IDC said.

That was ahead of Xiaomi (13.6 percent) and Fitbit (13.3 percent) for the full year, IDC said.

GROWTH SLOWDOWN

The overall wearables market — which includes fitness trackers, “smart” clothing, eyewear and other devices — last year rose 10.3 percent to 115.4 million units, compared with a sharper 27 percent increase in 2016, it added.

“The slowdown is not due to a lack of interest — far from it,” Llamas said. “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,” Llamas added.

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