- Global smartwatch shipments rose 48% in Q1 2019 from a year earlier, on the strength of brands including Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Huawei, per a study by researcher Counterpoint. The Apple Watch maintained its leading position with a steady market share of about 36% worldwide.
- Samsung's share surged to 11% in the quarter from 7.2% a year earlier, making the South Korean electronics giant the second-most popular smartwatch maker with its Galaxy brand. Huawei, the Chinese electronics company that this year overtook Apple as the second-biggest maker of smartphones, boosted its share of the smartwatch market to 2.8% in Q1 with its Huawei Watch GT.
- The Apple Watch's built-in electrocardiogram (ECG) feature helps to differentiate the smartwatch from rivals, Satyajit Sinha, an analyst at Counterpoint, said in a statement. The heart-rate monitor has received approval from healthcare authorities in about 20 countries including France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom.
Counterpoint's research confirms that wearables were a relative bright spot for Apple in Q1 2019, as iPhone sales posted the second straight quarter of declines. Sales for the wearables division, which includes Apple's smartwatch, AirPods wireless headphones and HomePod smart speaker, grew by 30% to $5.1 billion. Analysts forecast that Apple's wearables will reach $21.76 billion in sales this year, Reuters reported. Not resting on its laurels, Apple reportedly plans to add the App Store to the Apple Watch, potentially opening new opportunities for app developers and marketers, according to a Bloomberg report. Any new developments are expected to be announced at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), which begins June 3.
While Huawei’s smartwatch only has a 3% market share, the Chinese tech company should not be underestimated, given its rapid ascension in other product categories like smartphones. Huawei has undercut Apple on price in China with Android-based smartphones that have many similar features to an iPhone. For example, Tencent's hugely popular WeChat app acts like a miniature mobile operating system on Android-based phones, making their features more like Apple's iOS, per 9to5Mac.
Fitbit also gained market share to 5.5% in Q1 2019 from 3.7% a year earlier, per Counterpoint, a positive sign for a company that pioneered the market for health-tracker devices. Fitbit in March ramped up its marketing with a loyalty program that lets wearers earn points for everyday activities like steps, sleep and active minutes. Adidas, Blue Apron and music streaming site Deezer are among the brands that offered rewards to Fitbit customers who participate in the program and reach their activity goals.
Smartwatches will grow their share of the entire wearables market to 47% by 2023 from 44% last year on the growing popularity of the Apple Watch and various versions of Android-based devices from a variety of gadget makers, per the International Data Corp. Apple's WatchOS mobile operating system will power 28% of all smartwatches by 2023, the researcher estimated.