Sweaty fitness bands fall behind as Apple Watch outpaces sales

Fashion! Turn to the left... Fashion! Fashion!

Consumers’ love affair with fitness bands looks to have run its course with smartwatches shaping up to be the preferred way to lose the tub.

Or so market sales data from channel analyst Canalys has indicated: basic band shipment globally, which are comprised mostly of fitness bands, fell seven per cent year-on-year to just over nine million units in Q1 of 2017.

This was the first time category reported sales shrinkage, with the major incumbent Fitbit posting a 30 per cent crash across its wearable band portfolio to 2.9 million devices, though the extent of the slide was due to purchase postponement.

“Despite the release of the Alta HR pressure is mounting on Fitbit as anticipation grows for the follow-up to its Blaze smartwatch,” said research analyst Mo Jia.

“Its new smartwatch will need a good reception if Fitbit is to turn its fortunes around and return to growth in 2017,” he added.

For the three months ended 1 April, Fitbit turned over $298.9m in sales, versus $505.4m in the same period a year earlier. It sold three million devices compared to 4.8 million. And it recorded a loss of $60.1m from a profit of $11m. Ouch.

Smartwatch sales jumped 26 per cent to more than six million - some 40 per cent of the total wearable band market. Apple Watch accounted for 3.8 million of these sales, up 77 per cent from a year ago, “despite its high price”, said Canalys.

The second generation of the Apple Watch is water resistant, and this along with Bluetooth music streaming and built-in GPS were in-demand features that fitness nuts wanted.

“Just as we continue to see feature phone users upgrading to smartphones, basic band users find smartwatches to be a justifiable upgrade, because of their additional use cases,” said Jason Low, Canalys analyst.

“What sets the Apple Watch apart is a renewed focus on fitness, its co-branding with Nike helping to support this move. In addition, the availability of a wide range of accessories means the Apple Watch appeals to tech savvy consumers with an eye for fashion,” he said. ®

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