Industry analyst firm IDC released figures which suggest the whole wearables market grew to 32 million shipments in the last quarter, up more than 21% on the same period last year.
Xiaomi’s expansion outside China – including into Europe – was highlighted as a factor in helping it move ahead of Apple.
The company launched in the UK for the first time last month, with its Mi Band 3 fitness tracker among the products introduced.
Apple released its latest Apple Watch – the Series 4 – during the same period, but IDC suggests that accounted for less than 20% of Apple Watch shipments, with the majority of its 4.2 million shipments made up by the Apple Watch Series 3.
IDC said Xiaomi’s China-based shipments as part of overall volume dropped from an average of around 80% to 61% in this quarter because of its increasing presence in India, the Middle East and Asia as well as Europe.
Ramon Llamas, research director for IDC’s wearables team said the market for smartwatches and fitness trackers was subject to “geographic differences” and that this had had an impact on both Xiaomi and Apple.
“China – the largest market for wearables and more than double the size of the US market – has grown thanks to strong device development and experimentation, low-cost products, and strong demand for basic devices to draw in new users,” he said.
“Meanwhile, the US market – while slowing down – presents an opportunity for vendors to offer more featured and higher-priced devices to current users and possibly to recapture old ones.
“In between the two markets are many other countries in various states of development, and this allows vendors to take different approaches to meet demand. Combine these geographic differences with the new product announcements and releases, and the stage is set for a strong holiday quarter.”
The figures suggest Xiaomi’s wearable market share now sits at 21.5%, ahead of Apple with 13.1%.
Fitbit, Huawei and Samsung complete the rest of the top five manufacturers.