Apple Watch still dominates rapidly growing smartwatch market

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Apple Watch Series 5 info graph face with little alien
Apple Watch makes up more than half of the total smartwatch market, which is expanding strongly.
Photo: Ian Fuchs/Cult of Mac

Apple Watch made up a whopping 55.5% of global smartwatch shipments in the first three months of the year, according to a report released Wednesday by a market-research firm.

Apple shipments grew significantly, and so did those of its top competitors. Still, the COVID-19 epidemic is hurting smartwatch sales, and is expected to continue to do so.

Global shipments of these wrist computers increased 20.2% year over year, from 11.4 million units in Q1 2019 to 13.7 million last quarter, according to Strategy Analytics. “Smartwatches are selling well through online retail channels, while many consumers have been using smartwatches to monitor their health and fitness during virus lockdown,” noted Steven Waltzer, Senior Analyst with this firm.

Apple Watch “remains the clear industry leader”

Apple shipped 7.6 million units worldwide in the January-through-March period. That’s an increase of 22.6% from the same quarter of 2019. Its smartwatch market share moved from 54% to 55%. “Apple Watch owns half the worldwide smartwatch market and remains the clear industry leader,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics.

Apple itself doesn’t reveal how many wearables it sells, but did announce revenue from this category along with its most-recent financial report. The company took in $6.3 billion from wearables and accessories during the Q2 2020 financial quarter, a 22.5% increase.

Apple wearables revenue in Q2 2020
Apple Watch, AirPods, etc. revenue in Q2 2020 (in billions).
Chart: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

Samsung, Garmin and the rest

Rival Samsung shipped 1.9 million smartwatches worldwide in Q1, up 11.8% annually. “Samsung remains the world’s number two smartwatch vendor, but its growth was slowed by the coronavirus lockdown at home in South Korea and renewed competition from hungry competitors like Garmin,” said Waltzer.

Garmin shipped 1.1 million smartwatches globally last quarter. That’s an increase of 37.5%, putting it back in third place for the first time in two years. It has 8.0% of the world market for this type of product.

Smartwatch trends for 2020

Strategy Analytics sees short-term difficulties but remains optimistic for smartwatches long term.

“We expect global smartwatch shipments to slow sharply in the second quarter of 2020, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” predicted Woody Oh, head of this market-analysis company. “Smartwatches continue to have excellent long-term prospects, as younger and older people will become more health-conscious in a post-virus world.”