China is a special case when it comes to wearable tech. And with sales this quarter up 81% on last year, it’s safe to say that fitness trackers, smartwatches and smart clothing have a bright future there.
So much so that IDC, the analyst firm that publishes its quarterly global wearable tech sales estimates, has a sales tracker purely focused on China. According to the report, an impressive 9.54 million wearables were shipped between April and June this year.
That’s also 13.2% more than January to March of 2016 and to put that in context, IDC’s estimate for global wearable tech sales in 2016 is 101.9 million. So if China keeps up the way it’s going (with the new Amazfit watch and the Apple Watch Series 2), it could end up accounting for 20 or even 30% of total sales. Woah.
IDC categorises wearables into smartwatches and ‘basic’ wearables – so everything else including fitness trackers, kids watches and smart shoes. Still, it’s worth noting that even though Apple sold around 400,000 Apple Watches in China in this period, smartwatches as a whole only grew 3.4% in twelve months.
Xiaomi is, of course, still on top with around 2.8 million Mi Band sales in China and rounding out the top five are Lifesense (which sold over 1 million fitness trackers), Okii and 360 (both makers of popular kids trackers).
Out of the 4 million wearables sold by other manufacturers, a couple of other homegrown names get a nod from IDC. Mobvoi’s successful Ticwatch 2 crowdfunding campaign shows that Chinese brands can sell smartwatches internationally – nearly 10,000 people pledged $2 million in a month. And vice versa, Fitbit, Misfit and now Motorola are selling watches and trackers there.
Huami – Xiaomi’s manufacturing partner – is in the mix too alongside Bong which makes $15 smart fitness bands and reportedly sold 3.8 million to Thailand Telecom recently.
We’ll be keeping an eye on China’s special relationship with wearable tech. One small detail – Apple did drop its Gold version of the Watch which seemed to be marketed heavily at Chinese buyers so obviously that experiment in luxury didn’t quite work out.