Smart wearables see big spike as ‘basic’ devices drag down overall market growth

Apple Watch Series 3

Wearables’ market growth is slowing down, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC). Worldwide shipments of wearable devices grew 1.2 percent overall during the first quarter of 2018, with shipments reaching 25.1 million units. Even with slow growth,  the report shows consumers are leaning more toward smarter wearables while leaving the basic devices behind.

But what’s the difference between “basic” and “smart” wearables? IDC defines smart wearables as devices that are capable of running third-party apps. Devices that can’t run those apps are known as basic wearables. Basic wearables, specifically, saw a decline of 9.2 percent in shipments while higher-priced smart wearables — such as those from Apple and Fitbit — grew by 28.4 percent.

Aside from watches and wristbands — which accounted for 95 percent of shipments during the first quarter — clothing that includes sensors grew 58.6 percent year-over-year. While this mainly includes step-counting shoes, brands that offer “smart” shirts, shorts, and other clothing with fitness trackers also continues to grow.

Of the top five wearable companies in the first quarter, Apple took the top spot. The company’s shipments grew 13.5 percent over the previous year, following the release of its Apple Watch Series 3, which features a built-in eSIM for a cellular connection. In comparison to this time last year, Apple managed to increase its share from 14.3 percent to 16.1 percent.

In second place is smartphone brand Xiaomi with a 14.8 percent share of unit shipments. The brand has the lowest average selling price of the five companies and is far more popular in the Chinese market.

Even though Fitbit saw a decline of 28.1 percent, the company still managed to rank third for the quarter. Since the launch of the Fitbit Versa in April, the company has shipped more than 1 million devices. In addition to being a wearable that’s more stylish and affordable than competitors, the Versa also offers more female health tracking, which has already attracted more than 2 million users following its release in May.

Huawei took the fourth spot, posting an increase in market share since last year — the brand went from 2.1 percent during the first quarter of 2017 to 5.2 percent for the same period this year. Even though the company is primarily popular in Asia, its wide variety of products — ranging from smartwatches to fitness trackers, kids’ watches and more — have allowed the company to more than double its share.

To round out the list is Garmin, which didn’t see a huge increase since last year, coming in at 5 percent, compared to a 4.6 percent share a year ago. While the company hasn’t been quick to add new features to its wearables, its latest Garmin Forerunner 645  includes contactless payments (Garmin Pay) and its first-ever native music compatibility.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Click-to-brew beer, comfy headlamps, and more

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the Web this week. You can't buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Emerging Tech

This app-controlled prosthetic tail may be the weirdest wearable device yet

San Diego Comic-Con may be almost a year away, but it’s never too early to start preparing your cosplay costume. This wearable animatronic tail, controlled via your smartphone, should help.

Tap Strap wearable keyboard gains support for VR applications

TAP System's wearable keyboard gains support for virtual reality, now compatible with Windows Mixed Reality, Oculus Rift, and HTV headsets. Type and tap for up to eight hours in VR without needing to look at a physical keyboard.

Fitbit’s new health care platform sets out to improve wellness in the workplace

Fitbit's new platform, Fitbit Care, aims to help improve wellness in the workplace. Using wearables, digital health coaching, and a more personalized health care experience, employees can have an easier time staying on top of their health.

Fitbit Versa vs. Apple Watch Series 4: Which wearable is the best?

Smartwatches are the health-conscious wearables that everyone wants. We wanted to see how the brand-new Apple Watch Series 4 matches up with the beloved Fitbit Versa, so we compared them in various categories to help you choose.

How T-Mobile plans to use 5G to challenge traditional ISPs

In a recent FCC statement, T-Mobile COO Michael Sievert outlined the company's plans to use 5G to challenge traditional ISPs such as Comcast and Charter. The company says it would offer lower rates and higher speeds.

Armani Exchange’s smartwatch is for those who want their tech to be dapper

Armani is back with another Google Wear OS touchscreen smartwatch, and this time it's from the Armani Exchange division, making it stylish, modern, and affordable. There's plenty of technology inside too.

The best iPhone XR screen protectors to keep that big screen safe

The iPhone XR is Apple's midsized iPhone, and it's worth protecting. You might have picked up a case, but what about the screen? Keep your display safe with the best iPhone XR screen protectors.

Never run out of data (or money) with the best unlimited data plans of 2018

Sorting though unlimited plans isn't exactly a walk in the park. We've compared the best unlimited data plans from Sprint, T-Mobile, AT&T, and Verizon to help you decide which one is best for you.

The iPhone XS and XS Max survive being dunked in 138 cans of beer

Apple's special event is over, and we were introduced to the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Here's everything we know about the 2018 iPhone trio, from their cameras to release dates.

Apple iPhone XS vs. Sony Xperia XZ3: Which is the best phone for you?

What happens when one of Apple's best clashes with one of Sony's top performers? We're here to find out as we pit the iPhone XS against the Xperia XZ3 in various categories. Find out which of these smartphones will suit you best.

MetroPCS is now Metro by T-Mobile and includes Amazon Prime

Looking for a great prepaid phone plan? MetroPCS is now Metro by T-Mobile, and the veteran carrier is promising to provide a variety of prepaid phone plans that offer great value for money, and access to Google One and Amazon Prime.

Apple purchases Shazam and makes the app free of ads

Soon after Apple announced it was acquiring music-recognition service Shazam, it was revealed that the European Commission would be looking into the deal. The commission has now cleared the way for Apple's acquisition of Shazam.

Spotify vs. Pandora: Which music streaming service is better for you?

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.