Apple Inc. (AAPL) Posts Best Q4 Apple Watch Sales Ever

Apple gained ground in the wearables market in the fourth quarter thanks to its Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 smartwatches

Apple gained ground in the wearables market in the fourth quarter thanks to its Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 smartwatches

Wearables shipments in the fourth quarter of 2016 grew year-on-year from 29 million units to a record 33.9 million. IDC indicated that the tech bellwether's Watch Series one and two was a success and it was the best quarter for its wearables.

Shipments for the fourth quarter totaled 33.9 million units, up almost 17% on the same period in 2015.

An annual growth of 25pc in the wearables market was largely driven by devices with limited functionality - fitness trackers are the future. IDC notes that its numbers for Fitbit sales also includes shipments of Pebble and Vector smartwatches.

Growth for both Apple and Xiaomi comes as market leader Fitbit posted a -22.7% decline with 6.5 million units shipped versus 8.4 million in the year ago quarter. With 2016 seeing a staggering 102.4 million wearable devices being shipped, it is no longer a tall tale but a proven conclusion.

"Like any technology market, the wearables market is changing", noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team. "Apple is one of the few companies that has been able to quickly refocus its watch to gain traction in the consumer market and has also been leading the charge on introducing the smartwatch category to the commercial segment", the firm continued. Its 2016 share, however, declined by some 5% to 22% as Xiaomi and other low-priced vendors closed in.

The Chinese brand has little presence in the west, but it's a big player in its native territory, and not just for smartphones thanks to its low-price products such as the Mi Band proving attractive alternatives to big name rivals, and propelling it to second place in the overall wearables market. Health and fitness remains a major focus, but once these devices become connected to a cellular network, expect unique applications and communications capabilities to become available.

Improving shipments of ear-worn devices, referred to in the report as "hearables", and clothing with sensors woven in, while still relatively tiny, showed promise that the market is becoming about more than just wrist-worn devices, according to IDC.

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