Middle Child: Will Samsung Smart Watches Also Be Sandwiched Between Xiaomi And Apple? | BusinessKorea

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A breakdown of Xiaomi's Miband watch.
A breakdown of Xiaomi's Miband watch.
SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA
29 June 2015 - 2:00pm
Cho Jin-young

Xiaomi Technology and Apple are each showing unparalleled moves in the low-priced and premium wearable markets.

According to industry sources on June 26, the Apple Watch has been very popular since its launch in the Korean market. In the past, there were a lot of consumers in the nation waiting for the release of the model, since Korea was excluded from the list of countries for the model's first introduction. In fact, people waited in line in front of retail stores a day before the release date, which illustrates the smart watch's popularity at home.    

To date, more than 7 million units have been sold after the Apple Watch was rolled out in April. Samsung Electronics, which released its wearable watches prior to Apple, has only sold about 2 million Galaxy Gears over 2 years. In two months, Apple sold three times the number of Samsung watches sold by Samsung in two years, making the iOS device manufacturer the new dominant player in the premium smart watch market.  

Apple is targeting the premium wearable watch market using the design of its model as the weapon. As a fashion item, not just an IT device, the model sets itself apart by offering different kinds of bands and cases to attract consumers. The U.S. handset maker has also built an ecosystem of 3,500 apps just one month after its release of the model. Research firm Strategy Analytics predicted that the Apple Watch would account for 54.8 percent of the global smart watch market this year, outselling Samsung's Galaxy Gear series and nabbing the top spot as a result.

As Apple is consolidating its position in the premium market, Xiaomi is also enjoying tremendous popularity in the low-priced market. According to market research firm IDC, the Chinese company, which rolled out the Mi Band the previous summer, occupied the runner-up position in the global wearable device market in the first quarter of this year. Fitbit was in the top spot, and Samsung in fourth place. Xiaomi made up 24.6 percent of the total, becoming the world's second-largest wearable device maker after its first appearance in the market in 2014. Taking advantage of the momentum, total shipments of the Mi Band exceeded 6 million units as of June 10. 

Xiaomi's Mi Band is a smart wearable band that enables people to check their bio-rhythms and other information about their body’s metabolism. It is sold for around 20,000 won (US$17.79) per unit, which makes the model very popular in China and Korea.

As a result, much attention is being paid to whether or not Samsung will become a new major player in the market with the introduction of its next smart watch called Orbis, beating Apple and Xiaomi.

The Korean tech giant is scheduled to unveil the Orbis at this year's IFA in Germany in Sept., together with the Galaxy Note 5. At first, the new smart watch was going to be debuted at the MWC 2015 in March, but showcasing the model was postponed in order for Samsung to focus on the Galaxy S6. 

However, there are increasing concerns that Samsung, which will belatedly unveil its new smart watch, might be sandwiched between Xiaomi and Apple in the wearable device market as well, as in the case of the smartphone market.

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