China’s Xiaomi retains top spot over Apple as world’s most popular wearable tech maker

Report says Xiaomi’s ability to cram its devices with many functions for prices one-fifth or one-tenth of its US rivals is behind its popularity

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 2:43pm
UPDATED : Friday, 01 September, 2017, 2:43pm

Chinese technology company Xiaomi has beaten out Apple and Fitbit for a second straight quarter as the most popular maker of wearable devices in the world, thanks to its ability to offer multiple functions for a much lower price, according to a report released on Thursday.

Xiaomi sold 3.5 million units in the second quarter, more than the 3.4 million units sold by both Apple and Fitbit and giving the Chinese firm a 13.4 per cent share of the market, International Data Corporation (IDC)’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker showed.

In the first quarter, Xiaomi’s market share had been 14.7 per cent, against Apple’s 14.6 per cent and Fitbit’s 12.3 per cent.

IDC said Xiaomi’s expertise in low-cost devices remains unmatched in the global wearables market, which grew 10.3 per cent to 26.3 million units in the second quarter.

“The transition towards more intelligent and feature-filled wearables is in full swing,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, in the report. “For years, rudimentary fitness trackers have acted as a gateway to smartwatches, and now we’re at a point where brands and consumers are graduating to a more sophisticated device.”

IDC said Xiaomi’s Mi Band series of fitness trackers was the most popular device, while it has also entered the growing market for children's’ wearables, recently shipping its first smart shoes under the Mijia brand.

Unveiled in June last year, the Mi Band 2 fitness tracker has functions similar to those of Apple and Fitbit, including heart rate measurement, step tracking and sending notifications, but it comes at

one-fifth or even one-tenth of the price of the Apple Watch, at 149 yuan (US$22.4) compared to Apple Watch’s lowest price of US$271.4.

Review: Mi Band 2 from Xiaomi – fitness-tracking features on a band with an OLED display

Xiaomi, founded seven years ago by entrepreneur Lei Jun, is among the top five smartphone brands in China by sales, along with Apple and domestic brands including Huawei and Vivo. It sells mainly through its own e-commerce platform.