Fitbit surges as Apple Watch stumbles

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Simple fitness trackers from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin outsold Apple Watch during the third quarter.
Simple fitness trackers from Fitbit, Xiaomi and Garmin outsold Apple Watch during the third quarter.
Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch may be the most recognizable product in the wearables space, but it isn’t the best-selling.

Sales of Apple Watch are down more than 70 percent, according to IDC Research, which cites third-quarter sales figures of the wearables market.

The overall market enjoyed 3.1 percent growth over last year, bolstered by double-digit growth in basic fitness trackers, which represent about 85 percent of the market, according to the IDC report. These lower-cost trackers, from companies like Fitbit, Garmin and Xiaomi, record basic activity data like steps, calories burned and heart rate.

Apple, which released a Series 2 watcher earlier this year, sells the Apple Watch starting at $269, with a space black stainless steel watch that lists for $1,049. The watch is an extension of the iPhone, with apps that help you manage everything from messages and navigation to fitness and stock trades.

Apple and third-party vendors offer a variety of health and fitness apps. However, the report shows shoppers may be attracted to less-expensive, fitness-specific wearables.

Fitbit leads the category, with shipments of 5.3 million units in the third quarter to garner 23 percent of the market. The Fitbit Flex, which tracks sleep, distance, calories burned and time active is $59.99 on Amazon, which lists it as “#1 Best Seller.”

Apple placed fourth in sales during the third quarter, with 1.1 million watches down from 3.9 million sold a year ago. (Apple does not release sales numbers for Apple Watch, so IDC’s data is not “official.”)

The Xiaomi Mi band starts at $15.21 on Amazon. Xiaomi placed second during third-quarter sales with 3.8 million units. Garmin was third with 1.3 million units.

“It’s still early days, but we’re already seeing a notable shift in the market,” Jitesh Urbani, senior research analyst for mobile device trackers at IDC, said in a statement. “Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme. Simplicity is a driving factor and this is well reflected in the top vendor list, as four out of five offer a simple, dedicated fitness device.”

The “aging lineup” of first-generation Apple Watches and “an unintuitive user interface” were primary reasons for Apple’s troubled sales figures in the third quarter, according to the report. However, Series 2 Watch sales were still part of the third quarter, and IDC predicted continuing “challenges” for Apple in the smartwatch category.

Source: IDC and Business Insider