The market for wearable devicesis absolutely on fire. Case in point, the global wearables market grew 67% during the first quarter of 2016, according to researcher IDC.
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Image source: Apple.
Predictably, tech investors are busy searching for the top wearables companiesto add to their portfolios. So, which companies are churning out the tech wearablesconsumers want the most? Let's quickly review which companies dominate wearable techtoday.
The five top wearables companies today
The names that dominate the wearable devicemarket probably won't come as a complete surprise to most veteran tech investors. Atop the list sit names like wearables leader Fitbit (NYSE: FIT), Chinese smartphone power Xiaomi, tech giant Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), outdoor gear leader Garmin (NASDAQ: GRMN), and Korean electronics power Samsung (NASDAQOTH: SSNLF).
Here's how these names rank in the market for tech wearablesas of Q1 2016.
Data sources: Google Finance, The Wall Street Journal,IDC. *Denotes private market valuation.
IDC has yet to release its Q2 2016 market share figures, though it bears noting that the same names have consistently dominated the wearables market in recent quarters. Case in point, the same five names all appeared in the top five of IDC's Q4 2015 rankings, though their position on that list did shift slightly. Similarly, four of the five names above also appeared in IDC's Q3 2015rankings, with only Samsung failing to gain a place on the list.
New wearables coming before the holidays
At present, it seems unlikely the names that dominate wearable tech will change dramatically in the coming quarters. However, a number of important device releases on the horizon will likely influence the ongoing horse race for wearables supremacy heading into and beyond the holiday season.
Tech giant Apple is widely expected to debut an updated version of its eponymous Apple Watch in the coming months. Depending on the device's actual feature set, the device could quite conceivably capture a more meaningful portion of the market. However, current reports paint the forthcoming Apple Watch 2 as a more incremental improvement over its predecessor, so such a sequence of events seems a remote possibility today.
At present, limitations on cellular chip power efficiency and battery capacity will likely hinder Apple from including full-fledge cellular network connectivity as part of the Apple Watch 2, though such plans reportedly remain part of the company's long-term smartwatch strategy. Instead, the Apple Watch 2 will launch with an improved GPS chip and a more concerted emphasis on health and fitness tracking, potentially leaving an opening for competitors to steal wearables market share from the world's largest tech company.
In the smartwatch space, Samsung will debut its latest device -- the Galaxy Gear S3 -- at an event in Berlin at the end of August. Neither the event invitations themselves nor the always-humming tech rumor mill offers much in the way of detail regarding possible features for Samsung's next-generation smartwatch. However,
Image source: Fitbit.
Samsung has already pulled ahead of Apple in some senses in this growing space. Samsung's Galaxy Gear S2 3G, despite being a real mouthful to say, offers the cellular connectivity Apple reportedly covets. If Samsung can follow up on its successes with the second smartwatch suite of products with the Galaxy Gear S3, Apple could see its market share tumble.
Perhaps more even importantly, Fitbit also plans to debut two updated versions of its flagship trackers prior to the holiday shopping season. The two devices are follow-ups to Fitbit's Charge and Flex models and should help the fitness tracking leader maintain its wearable tech leadership position.
To be sure, the entire market for wearable technologywill undergo dramatic shifts as the science that powers the space evolves in the coming years. However, even as the competitive balance inevitably changes, tech investors should expect many of the top wearables companies mentioned above to remain at the forefront of this budding multibillion-dollar industry in the years to come.
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Andrew Tonner owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2018 $90 calls on Apple and short January 2018 $95 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Fitbit. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.