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Reuters/Edgard Garrido
Out of their shadow.
IT MI

The most popular wearables brand in the world isn’t Apple or Fitbit

By Mike Murphy

The wearables market is hitting its stride.

Sales of step-tracking devices and other connected health gadgets rose over 10% this quarter compared to the same quarter last year, with companies shipping 26.3 million units, according to a report released today by the market-research firm IDC. But the company dominating the wearables business might not be the one that many would’ve expected.

Although Apple’s Apple Watch business likely generates billions of dollars a year for the company, and Fitbit has sold 67 million units since its launch (the company told Quartz over email), they are not the ones leading the market right now: Instead it’s China’s Xiaomi. The company’s Mi Band 2, launched last year, is the only wearable the company sells widely, but the fact that it does nearly as much as Apple and Fitbit’s far more expensive models—it has heart-rate monitoring, step tracking, and notifications—for between one fifth and one tenth the prices, has clearly made them a hit with consumers around the world. (Xiaomi also has a smartwatch—the Amazfit—but it’s not available in the US or Europe.)

Xiaomi shipped 3.5 million units in the second quarter of 2017, just edging out Apple and Fitbit, which both shipped 3.4 million units, according to IDC. The three companies’ market share represents about 40% of the entire wearables business.

But Xiaomi’s place atop the market could soon be under threat: Fitbit announced a slew of new devices earlier this week, including the Ionic smartwatch, and Apple is expected to unveil an update to its Apple Watch line at its event on Sept. 12.

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