Published: Wed, November 15, 2017
Research | By Raquel Erickson

Apple nudges out Xiaomi to retake global wearables lead

Apple nudges out Xiaomi to retake global wearables lead

According to a report from market research outfit Canalys, Apple shipped 3.9 million watches in third quarter, 800,000 of which were cellular enabled. It posted its strongest quarter so far in 2017, thanks to the release of the Apple Watch Series 3.

The analyst says the cellular LTE Apple Watch Series 3 has proved popular, with demand outstripping supplier and carriers surprised by the demand for the cellular 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. Still, their performance was better than average in the sluggish Q3, according to Canalys, where business has historically been slower. It also gave Apple 23 percent of the market, putting it fractionally ahead of the 21 percent for Xiaomi, the Chinese firm that was briefly top of the industry for the first time in the previous quarter. The Apple Watch Series 3 was only available from the middle of September. Despite increased shipments, the overall wearable band market dropped by 2% to 17.3 million units, primarily due to the waning demand for the basic bands, Canalys estimates.

Smartphone makers Huawei and Samsung also make their own series of smartwatches, some of which are created to rival the Apple Watch, but have had to contend with 6% and 5% share, respectively. The company making the Apple Watch found itself in that position in Q1 as well, but in Q2 it was overtaken by both Xiaomi and Fitbit.


Though third quarter is the weakest period for the sales of wearable devices, top manufacturers gained huge in Q3 2017. In contrast, market researchers like IDC do not include wireless headphones in the wearables category unless they include other additional features, such as health/fitness tracking, integrated artificial intelligence (AI) that isn't just coming through a paired smartphone, augmented audio, or real-time translation.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple.

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