Apple Watch's Record-Breaking Quarter Was Opposite One of Fitbit's 'Largest Declines Ever'

Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 have proven to be a "magnificent success" for Apple, which recorded its "best quarter ever" in the wearables market, according to the latest data from research firm IDC.

IDC wearables Q4 16

Fourth quarter shipments reflected in millions (Source: IDC)

Apple shipped an estimated 4.6 million Apple Watch units in the fourth quarter of 2016, up from an estimated 4.1 million in the year-ago quarter, according to IDC. Its share of the wearables market, which includes basic fitness trackers, was an estimated 13.6%, down slightly from 14.1% in the year-ago quarter.

Apple closed the gap with wearables market leader Fitbit, which experienced one of its "largest declines ever" in the fourth quarter. Fitbit shipped an estimated 6.5 million fitness trackers in the quarter, down from 8.4 million in the year-ago quarter. Fitbit's market share dropped from 29% to 19.2%, said IDC.

Apple has been heavily marketing the Apple Watch's fitness capabilities as of late, rather than positioning it as a fashion accessory, and this shift in focus has allowed it to grow its presence in the wearables market, according to IDC:

Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 proved to be a magnificent success for the company as it was the company's best quarter ever in the wearables market. The lower entry price point and the inclusion of GPS on the Series 2 along with a completely revamped user interface have helped the company grow its presence. 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.

Xiaomi finished second, between Fitbit and Apple, as its Mi Bands are priced well below most competing wearables, allowing the Chinese company to capture 15.2% market share based on an estimated 5.2 million shipments in the quarter. Xiaomi's market share rose considerably from 9.1% in the year-ago quarter.

Samsung was the fifth largest wearables vendor in the fourth quarter with an estimated 1.9 million shipments and 5.6% market share.

IDC estimates that Apple Watch shipments totaled 10.7 million in 2016 for an estimated 10.5% market share, down from an estimated 11.6 million shipments and 14.2% market share in 2015. The annual data has the same top five rankings as the quarterly data: Fitbit, Xiaomi, Apple, Garmin, and Samsung.

idc q4 16

Annual shipments reflected in millions (Source: IDC)

It is important to acknowledge that these are estimated figures, and that shipments do not necessarily reflect sales. Strategy Analytics said Apple Watch shipments totaled 5.2 million last quarter, which is roughly 600,000 units higher than IDC's estimate, so there is clearly variation between datasets.

Apple does not officially disclose Apple Watch sales, instead grouping the device under its "Other Products" category in earnings results.

Apple only elected to share that the Apple Watch set all time sales records during the first quarter of its 2017 fiscal year, with CEO Tim Cook noting holiday demand was "so strong" that Apple "couldn't make enough."

Related Roundup: Apple Watch Series 9
Tags: Fitbit, IDC
Buyer's Guide: Apple Watch (Caution)

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Top Rated Comments

bluespark Avatar
95 months ago
I'm certainly loving mine -- one of my most satisfying Apple purchases in years, maybe ever.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JeffyTheQuik Avatar
95 months ago
Just wait until people realize that these watches last 3 years, not 50 years like other watches
Yep, and those 50 year old watches do what they did 50 years ago.

Tell time.

If you want your watch to do more than than time related things, the 3 year watch is your new paradigm.
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pika2000 Avatar
95 months ago
Just wait until people realize that these watches last 3 years, not 50 years like other watches
Well, many of those other watches do cost more than the AW. Considering I get more utility from the AW than a standard branded watch, the AW provides better value for me.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ILikeCoffee7 Avatar
95 months ago
Yes, I stopped my FitBit HR this year when I got my Apple Watch Series 1. Love it!
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
1applerules1 Avatar
95 months ago
Fitbit can't do nearly as much as the Apple Watch. So this makes sense.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ILikeCoffee7 Avatar
95 months ago
Once again, you're comparing apples to oranges. A Fitbit is not a smart watch.
I'm sorry but when I got my Apple Watch my Fitbit usage went to ZERO
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)