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  Date: 18/09/2016

Chinese wearable devices feature rich-functions made for local needs

IDC reputes China shipped 9.54 million wearable devices in the second quarter of 2016. IDC projected an increase of 13.2% from the previous quarter and up 81.4% from a year earlier. Shipments of basic wearable devices such as wristbands, children’s watches and smart running shoes grew by 92.1%, while smart wearables led by smart watches were up by 3.4% from a year earlier as per IDC.

Jean Xiao, Research Manager at IDC China says,“Unlike basic wearable products in overseas markets where fitness tracking is their main function, basic wearable devices in China are of much richer product forms and offer more functionality. This has enabled the fast expansion of China’s basic wearable device market” . “Meanwhile, unlike their international counterparts, Chinese vendors have a more profound understanding of local market segments. Cost-effective products and precisely targeted marketing and sales strategies appeal to Chinese consumers more easily."

Other findings shared by IDC includes:
Due to local vendors there exists rapid growth in China’s wearable device market. Local companies have adapted quickly and cultivate new market segments enormously. This can be understood in terms of the product that shifted focus from hardware to software.

Manufacturers of fitness wristbands such as Xiaomi and Lifesense or children’s watches like Okki and 360, sellers focus basically on improving the hardware performance of their products. Further, the shaping of the market in 2015, sellers gradually shifted their focus towards developing wearable device applications and software programme. For example, the product function of children’s watches has gradually emerged from a location-positioning device to meet parents’ safety needs into a mobile device that offers social networking, entertainment and interaction for kids.

In terms of functionality, expansion is evidenced in new wearable ranges where Chinese sellers have gradually moved and changed from making small-scale exploratory innovation in wearable device functions to transforming innovations into essential functions for most products.

Following the innovators launch of public transit payment wristbands in 2015 the payment has now become an indispensable function of Chinese manufactured wearable devices. Whether it is payment through NFC or by way of QR code scanning on APP installed on smartwatches. By supporting mobile payment on wearable devices Chinese vendors have become both developers and leaders in the wearable payment field. This year Mobvoi and Huami were the first Chinese manufacturers to introduce offline music storage to their smartwatch ranges. This is set to become the next major function for new wearable devices.

In 2015, wearable device sellers chose for single e-commerce platforms to launch their new products. The picture changed in 2016 when more sellers selected to sell their products on both online and offline base. Consumers now have such a mature understanding of wearable devices, that traditional channels such as retail outlets have to stock emerging smart hardware to attract new user groups. This means that sellers with product and brand advantages in a moderate way gaining the upper hand across the market. Full-platform channel management that will pose a test to vendors’ overall durability.

The comprehension of Market scenario is through the growth from domestic to overseas trade. The success of the Xiaomi wristband in India and other overseas markets created demand for more Chinese wearable devices. Sellers started to enter overseas markets in 2016. Through the US crowd funding website Kickstarter, Mobvoi gathered a total of over US$2 million from 9,955 people in one month. It gained recognition as the top-ranking smart watch under the category of wearable devices. Likewise, Chinese wristband vendor Bong won an order of 3.8 million sport wristbands from a subsidiary of Thailand Telecom. The operation by Chinese vendors into overseas markets is slowly winning them an increase in share of the global wearable device market.

Jean Xiao says, "Having withstood the test of fierce competition in the rapidly expanding home market, Chinese wearable device vendors represented by Xiaomi, Lifesense and Okii have accumulated considerable strengths in product functionality, software technology and channel strategy and have become a force to be reckoned with in the global wearable device market”. “Emerging wearable device startups represented by Mobvoi and Bong have also started to win their place in overseas markets. IDC believes that Chinese wearable device vendors will move further ahead in this field."
Author: Srinivasa Reddy N
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