Apple led the charge in the wearable band market during the first quarter of this year, with Canalys finding that the company shipped 3.8 million Apple Watches during the first three months of the year.
In a press release, the market research firm said wearable band shipments increased 35 percent year over year in the first quarter, with demand for health-focused devices driving the growth. Smartwatches made up 80 percent of the wearable band revenue, which is up from 74 percent in the first quarter of 2017. They also accounted for 43 percent of the sales during the first quarter.
Behind Apple, Xiaomi, which makes the Mi Bands, was in second place, shipping 3.7 million devices during the first three months of the year. Fitbit, Garmin and Huawei, vendors selling a mixed portfolio of fitness wearables, rounded out the top five. Canalys noted that Apple Watch shipments matched the volume from the first quarter of last year.
“Key to Apple’s success with its latest Apple Watch Series 3 is the number of LTE-enabled watches it has been able to push into the hands of consumers,” said Canalys senior analyst Jason Low in a press release announcing the findings. “Operators welcome the additional revenue from device sales and the added subscription revenue for data on the Apple Watch, and the list of operators that sell the LTE Apple Watch worldwide is increasing each month.
Apple represents 59 percent of the total cellular-enabled smartwatch market. “While the Apple ecosystem has a strong LTE watch offering, the lack of a similar product in the Android ecosystem is glaring,” Low continued. “If Google decides to pursue the opportunity with a rumored Pixel Watch, it would jump-start much-needed competition in this space.”
According to Canalys, Garmin is now the second-largest smartwatch vendor behind Apple, shipping one million smartwatches during the first quarter. Meanwhile, Fitbit, once a leader in wearable fitness devices, is trying to get users to upgrade to smartwatches and aiming to attract new users at a time when there is fierce competition.
“Fitbit is betting on its newly launched Versa smartwatch, while introducing female health tracking to expand its addressable market,” said Vincent Thielke, research analyst at Canalys. “Collaboration between Fitbit and Google on the cloud healthcare API will help Fitbit get into healthcare systems, and that is a positive move. But Fitbit’s immediate cause for concern will be satisfying investors that it is selling more wearables, something it may not be able to do.”