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Fitbit Still Leads Wearables Market, Irritating Competitors

Even though its highest-end device was voluntarily recalled for causing skin irritation, Fitbit managed to increase its market share by 3 percent, according to a recent report on fitness trackers by NPD.

The report mentions that the market share for Fitbit, which makes the Flex, Zip and the now-recalled Force, increased to 67 percent in the 5 weeks ending April 21, up from 64 percent in the 5-week period ending November 2 of last year.

MORE: Best Fitness Trackers 2014

Activity trackers as a whole grew 2.4 times from the first quarter of 2013 to the first quarter of this year. NPD’s survey jibes with one released earlier in April by IDC, which predicts that sales of wearable fitness trackers will triple in 2014 to 119 million units. One company who won’t be profiting from this, though, is Nike, which announced recently that it would stop making its FuelBand hardware, and focus solely on software.

Regardless of who makes them, trackers may start collecting dust soon after purchase. A study from research firm Endeavour Partners says that one-third of American consumers who have owned a wearable product stopped using it within 6 months. That number goes to 50 percent for activity trackers, despite the fact that 1 in 10 U.S. adults already own one.

However, fitness trackers could see greater wrist time as companies start distributing devices to employees as a way to monitor their health, in an effort to cut overall healthcare costs. Employees from such companies as BP and Cigna are already using the Fitbit Zip and other devices from Jawbone to lower their insurance premiums, according to an article in Forbes.

One uncertainty in the wearable space is whether consumers will eventually gravitate toward more expensive smartwatch-type devices such as the Samsung Gear Fit or the rumored Apple smartwatch, or stick with the less expensive, but more proven fitness trackers such as the Flex and Up24.