Canalys has released its latest market assessment of the smartband market. The wearable market has many different players and devices already with more set to join later in 2015. Besides the variety of devices and levels of sophistication within the market, there are also several operating systems fighting for market dominance; Android wear, several home made OS types and soon iOS as well.
The market is very diverse and Canalys seems to distinguish between basic fitness bands and smartbands, with more functionality in its market assessment. While the difference between a basic and a smart wearable band is one that is not an industry agreed definition, such separation would appear to make a lot of sense. The market includes devices from a simple plastic band with an indicator LED and very limited functionality, to a micro computer strapped to the wrist. This is, of course, also reflected in the price difference of these devices.
Canalys estimates that in 2014, 4.6 million smart wearable bands were shipped worldwide. Of this total, 720,000 were powered by Android Wear, while the rest were powered by various “home made” operating systems.
Leader among the Android Wear segment is, surprisingly, Motorola with its Moto 360, followed by LG, Asus and Sony. This result is surprising as many analysts see the wearable band as an accessory to the smartphone, and Motorola is not a leader in the smartphone market.
Pebble says that it has shipped over 1 million units from the launch in 2013 through to the end of 2014. Samsung still leads the smartband market, however it has released six different devices on various platforms over the last 14 months.
In the low-end market the company still sees Fitbit as the global leader, but it mentioned Xiaomi with the Mi Band as an example how one low-priced product in a large market can very quickly gain a significant position in the market. Canalys sees over 1 million units shipped with a high one day sale of over 100,000 units after the release.
This market assessment shows quite an uptick in consumer interest in the second half of 2014. According to market data released by Canalys in August 2014, the smart wearable band market was around 1.8 million units for the first half of 2014, compared to around 2.8 million for the second half of 2014. While this is a significant swing, it is actually soft compared to some sales data for smartphones, for example.
Canalys sees the main market mover for 2015 as the Apple Watch. Canalys believes believe that the Apple Watch will be not only a market leader in performance, but it will cause more competition between the platforms. This competition will also lead to overall better performance of such devices, which may translate into higher consumer interest in the long run. – NH