BI Intelligence believes fitness bands and activity trackers will be the devices that bring wearables to the mainstream market. But thus far sales of these devices have been disappointing, and this poses some concern for the category as a whole.
- About 3.3 million fitness bands and activity trackers were sold between April 2013 and March 2014 in the U.S. through bricks-and-mortar retailers or large-scale e-commerce sites, according to the NPD Group.
- Unit sales grew over 500% year-over-year for the period. We estimate growth has been at around 500% annually for the past three years.
The 500% figure is impressive — but deceiving.
BI Intelligence finds that
growth is only so high because the market is at such a low base. For perspective, consider smartphone sales in the U.S.: Motorola, which held only 4% of the U.S. smartphone market among the top 5 handset makers in 2013, still managed to sell over 4.8 million handsets for the year, according to estimates from NPD.
That means that even in the mature U.S. smartphone market, unit sales for the fifth-most popular handset maker were 45% larger than unit sales for the entire U.S. fitness tracker market.
At BI Intelligence, we’ve been tracking the wearable computing market, following how the fitness tracker, smart watch, and other wearables ecosystems are evolving.
If fitness trackers can’t catch on among mainstream consumers, smart watches and other wearable computing devices will also struggle.
In the BI Intelligence chart at the bottom of this post, you can see how the U.S. fitness tracker market is breaking down by manufacturer. Despite a lot of different offerings, sales are surprisingly concentrated.
- Fitbit dominates the market. NPD estimates that Fitbit’s line of devices, including the Force, Fit, One, and Zip models, accounted for 67% of sales for the period.
- Jawbone and Nike are a distant second and third, respectively. Jawbone held about 18% of the market and Nike’s share is down at around 11%. Altogether, these three companies make up 96% of the whole fitness tracker market.
NPD only tracked sales at major retail outlets and major online stores, not sales from any of the company’s own websites. But we believe it is still a solid illustration of the general tepidness of consumer interest in these devices so far.
Fitness band makers may be losing interest in the category as well. As BI Intelligence previously reported, Nike laid off a significant portion of its FuelBand team, signaling the move away from hardware and into software.
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