After Smartphones, Apple all set to rule global wearables market

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The late-year push of 8.0 million units separated Apple from the competition to emerge as the overall leader of the wearables market for the year.

Continuing an "upward trajectory", the wearables market reached new records in shipment volumes for both the fourth quarter (4Q17) and the full year 2017, the firm's Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker claimed.

Llamas says Apple can thank the rise of the smartwatch for its position at the top.

As demand for wearable electronics continues to grow, Apple has taken a decisive lead away from rivals Fitbit and Xiaomi, IDC reports today. Apple is catching the market with many users of basic wearables moving on to smartwatches and cellular connectivity.

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Apple is decisively taking control of the market for smart wearables devices, after posting tremendous growth with its third-generation line of smartwatches in the fourth quarter. IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement.

IDC also pointed out that prices for individual products have slowly declined, with consumer preferences shifting to more sophisticated devices and towards well-recognised brands.

"Combined with the potential to sell added software and services, wearables are proving to be an increasingly lucrative market for brands and service providers". While Xiaomi's numbers stayed flat over the 12-month period, Fitbit's business shrunk by a considerable margin, with the company shipping 22.5 million devices in 2016, or 31.6-percent more than it did previous year. IDC noted that the company continued its transformation in the quarter with broader distribution and promotion of its Ionic smartwatch and continued application development for its Fitbit OS platform.

The firm was positive on Fitbit, noting that while its shipments were down, the company has been deepening its health care reach and setting the stage for future growth. The company's focus remain on its home region of China with under 15 percent of its volumes going elsewhere. It means the total wearable device shipments in Oct-Dec period were 37.9 million, up 8% from the same period a year prior. However, like Xiaomi the country's focus remains within China, which saw shipments outside of the country actually decline 2 percent.

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