Xiaomi's US$12 fitness tracker becomes world's second most popular wearable
Chinese smart device maker Xiaomi has become the world's second largest seller of wearables thanks entirely to the success of one cut-price fitness tracker.
According to a new report by market intelligence firm International Data Corporation (IDC), Xiaomi shipped more wearable devices in the first quarter of 2015 than any other company but San Francisco-based Fitbit, whose products have been on the market since 2009.
Xiaomi shipped 2.8 million devices during the quarter, accounting for roughly 25 per cent of the total shipments of wearables. Fitbit shipped more than 4 million devices. The Apple Watch, which began shipments in April, was not included in the report.
Xiaomi released its 79 yuan (US$13) device in mainland China in mid-2014, before expanding to Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, and southeast Asia. In May, the company opened online stores in the US and Europe, offering, instead of its hugely popular smartphones, accessories such as the Mi Fitness Tracker.
While Xiaomi's tracker does not have all the capabilities of rival devices from Fitbit and Apple, its aggressive pricing has helped it gain significant market share.
The company has also sought to expand its wearables range, partnering with US-based Misfit to help that company bring its fitness trackers and other smart devices to the Chinese market.
The Mi Fitness tracker itself is not actually made by Xiaomi itself, which focuses primarily on smartphones and tablets, but by partner Huami Technologies, which also makes a Xiaomi-branded smart scale that can sync with the company's health and fitness tracking mobile app.
Though currently Xiaomi's wearable only tracks steps and sleep, the company entered into a partnership with Alipay, the Alibaba subsidiary which dominates China's third party payments market, to create wearable payment devices.
The partnership aims to create wearable devices that are linked to the users' identity so that they can make wireless payments with the wristband as well as a variety of other implementations such as opening hotel room doors or buying cinema tickets.