According to a new report by analyst firm Strategy Analytics, Chinese tech upstart Xiaomi has, for the first time, surpassed Apple and Fitbit as the world's top wearable maker in terms of shipments. Xiaomi, which competes on price, selling wrist-worn trackers for as little as $15, became the market leader with 17 percent market share to Fitbit's 16 and Apple's 13.
"Xiaomi’s Mi Band fitness trackers are wildly popular in China, due to their highly competitive pricing and rich features such as heart-rate monitors, step-counters and calendar alerts," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "... Fitbit is at risk of being trapped in a pincer movement between the low-end fitness bands sold by Xiaomi and the fitness-led, high-end smartwatches sold by Apple.”
It's true that the shift has at least as much to do with Fitbit's decline as it does with Xiaomi's ascendance. While Xiaomi only jumped from 3 million shipments in Q2 2016 to 3.7 million in Q2 2017, Fitbit dropped from 5.7 million to 3.4 million in the same period. Apple, meanwhile, rose steadily from 1.8 million to 2.8 million. Taken altogether those changes have led to a dramatic shift in marketshare for Fitbit, which dropped from 29 percent down to 16.
Xiaomi's accessories, including its fitness devices, became available in the US in 2015, but the bulk of the company's sales lead still comes from China. It has kept pace with the fitness tracker arms race, adding heart rate sensing, sleep tracking, and even a $102 smartwatch offering called the WeLoop.
Both Apple and Fitbit could reverse the trend, at least temporarily, when they launch highly anticipated upcoming devices. Fitbit's long-awaited smartwatch offering will be available at the end of this year, while Apple is rumored to be working on an Apple Watch Series 3.
"Apple has for now lost its wearables leadership to Xiaomi, due to a lack of presence in the sizeable fitnessband subcategory," Cliff Raskind, director at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement. "However, the rumored upcoming Watch Series 3 launch with enhanced health tracking could prove to be a popular smartwatch model and enable Apple to reclaim the top wearables spot later this year.”