Fitness trackers, unlike other smartwatches, serve a defined purpose.
The number of people who own a smartwatch or fitness tracker is on the rise, but one brand is dominating the market in the United States.
Spoiler alert: it isn’t Apple.
The Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’s Wearable service report said the increased demand for fitness trackers meant that 75% of all wrist wearables fell in that category. More than one in 10 people in the U.S. owned either a fitness band or a smartwatch.
And Fitbit is the wearable of choice.
Around 61% of all wrist-based devices sold in the U.S. are Fitbit. The Apple Watch accounts for 6.8% of the market, Kantar’s first quarterly report for the wearable market said. Fitbit has established itself as a market leader thanks to the (relatively) uncomplicated nature of the device, although the brand has entered the smartwatch arena with the recent release of the Fitbit Blaze.
“For both smartwatch and fitness band buyers – brand, ease of use, and functionality are the top drivers of purchase, outweighing both design and cost,” said Kantar Worldpanel ComTech’ wearable tech analyst Shannon Conway, in a press release.
Smartwatch manufacturers have been pushing the health and fitness applications of their devices but fitness bands are functional and easy to use—wherever you are in the world.
Wearables Growth Is Still Slow
The U.S. and Australia lead in market penetration for wearables with 12.2% and 12.7%, respectively. Europe is lags behind. Only Italy has more than a 10% penetration rate of wearable devices. The United Kingdom, Germany and France all have less than 8% wearable adoption although smartwatches are the preferred option. Around 55.2% of all devices in the E.U. are smartwatches but the combined fitness band and smartwatch market is still led by Fitbit—18.5% compared to Apple’s 14% and Samsung’s 11.6%.
Traditional watches are still wage the fight to stay relevant. According to the Kantar report, 31.9% of all smartwatch brands and 43% of Apple Watches have taken the place of a more traditional watch. In this respect, Kantar’s report confirms what other wearables analysts have said. A recent report from global research firm Strategy Analytics said that smartwatch shipments outpaced Swiss watches for the first time in the last financial quarter of 2015 , the majority of which were the Apple Watch.
“Our first smartwatch data set reflects a relatively low level of market penetration – not unexpected for what is still a young category,” said Conway. “In our next quarterly Wearables report in August, we’ll be adding a number of data elements, including how non-owners of smartwatches have reported on whether they intend to purchase one of these devices in the future. We expect that this will give us some interesting indications about where the wearables market is headed.”