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Series 3 sales help crown Apple Watch king of 2017 wearables market

By Roger Fingas

Some 8 million Apple Watches may have been sold in the December quarter, allowing Apple to beat out the likes of Fitbit for wearables dominance not just then but during the whole of 2017, according to research published on Thursday.

Apple saw its marketshare rise year-over-year from 14.4 percent to 21 percent in Q4, with units growing from 5.1 million, IDC said. One-time leader Fitbit saw its units decline from 6.5 million to 5.4 million, and hence share fall from 18.5 percent to 14.2.

Behind those two companies were Xiaomi, Garmin, and Huawei. A cumulative "others" group shrank from 43.5 percent to 41 percent, even as shipments increased slightly to 15.6 million.

"4Q17 was the first quarter that Apple held the market leader position all to itself after spending several quarters close behind Fitbit or Xiaomi," IDC wrote. "Apple is catching the market at the right time with many users of basic wearables moving on to smartwatches and cellular connectivity (available on select Series 3 Watches) is earning a warm reception among end users, if only for the convenience of leaving their smartphone behind. The late-year push of 8.0 million units separated Apple from the competition to emerge as the overall leader of the wearables market for the year."

During 2017, Apple is estimated to have shipped 17.7 million Watches, surpassing Xiaomi's 15.7 million and Fitbit's 15.4 million.

Apple's plans for new hardware in 2018 are still shrouded. The company could potentially add an EKG reader, and/or make cellular models even more independent of the iPhone.

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