After shipping 3.9 million smartwatches this past quarter, Apple has once again become the best-selling wearable company, surpassing Xiaomi and Fitbit, which shipped 3.6 million and 3.5 million wearable devices, respectively, over the same period.
Apple Reigns Supreme In The Wearable Game
This represents Apple's strongest quarter in 2017 so far. The Cupertino tech firm sold 800,000 Apple Watch Series 3 devices with LTE connectivity, while the rest were a mix of its previous smartwatches.
Both Xiaomi and Fitbit performed worse than Apple, but their shipments were actually better than average in the sluggish Q3. The latest numbers come from market analyst firm Canalys, which says that despite Apple's strong market performance, this quarter has been a sluggish quarter for wearables in general. The analysts reckon the overall market shrank 2 percent to 17.3 million units.
Apple unveiled its Series 3 smartwatch this past September, the most critical update to its wearables line that finally added LTE capabilities, meaning the watch alone could be used to place and receive calls — no phone needed.
Wearable Market Predictions For Q4
Despite strong shipments, the Apple Watch Series 3 did not sell as many units as it could have, according to Canalys analyst Jason Low. Aside from limited availability of the watch, Apple and service providers failed to meet overwhelming demand in some major markets.
"In China, customers with high expectations are being driven away by the service disruption fiasco in the country," Low said, offering a suggestion on how to improve this for Q4: "Besides bringing in more stock, operators should work on improving their remote service provisioning systems to cater for the expected higher demand in Q4."
Samsung, Apple, and Huawei were the top three wearable companies in Q3 2017 by volume, and all three have positioned their wearable devices as a companion to their premium flagship phones. But companies could derive more value from the smartwatch segment if they make devices that work independently and away from smartphones, which is what Apple is doing with the Series 3.
All told, Canalys still sees a great Q4 ahead, especially as more smartwatches focus on health tracking and fitness capabilities, not to mention as they get slimmer and better-looking. Q4 will also be crucial in assessing whether consumers are inclined to buy fashionable smartwatches — from brands such as Michael Kors, Emporio Armani — over functional ones. It's form versus function all over again, it seems.
Thoughts on the smartwatch market? Feel free to sound off in the comments section below!