According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, Apple Watch maintained the first position in global smartwatch shipments for the fourth quarter of 2018, snagging more than half (51%) of the marketshare.
The research firm reports that global smartwatch shipments overall grew 56% annually to reach a record 18 million units in Q4. While Apple took top spot, Samsung was second, overtaking usual category leaders like Fitbit and Garmin.
"Global smartwatch shipments grew an impressive 56 per cent annually from 11.6 million units in Q4 2017 to a record 18.2 million in Q4 2018," confirms Steven Waltzer, Industry Analyst at Strategy Analytics. "Global smartwatch shipments hit an all-time high of 45 million units in full-year 2018. Smartwatch growth is soaring, as consumers seek to accessorize their smartphones and bring digital connectivity to their wrists."
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, adds; "Apple shipped 9.2 million smartwatches worldwide in Q4 2018, rising 18 per cent from 7.8 million units in Q4 2017."
However, while Apple's figures are impressive, the company's share is actually down from 67% a year ago as Samsung and Fitbit ramp up their offerings, and increase their retail presence.
Samsung shipped 2.4 million smartwatches worldwide to capture 13% global smartwatch marketshare in Q4, rising from just 5% a year ago. The new Galaxy Watch has been popular in both North America and Asia, and Samsung has a good pipeline of new models for 2019, says Waltzer, including the new Galaxy Watch Active, which adds blood pressure tracking. "Samsung should perform well this year," he predicts.
Fitbit, meanwhile, captured 13% global smartwatch marketshare for the quarter, tripling its share from just 4% in Q4 2017.
"Fitbit is becoming established as a top-tier smartwatch brand," says Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, nothing that the company's products are very popular in the U.S. market, including the Versa. The new Fitbit Care connected health platform, meanwhile, helps differentiate the brand from others.
Garmin held fourth position and captured 6% of the worldwide smartwatch marketshare during Q4 2018, holding steady from the same share a year ago. But rising competition from Fitbit, Samsung, and others in the sports and music categories is making it harder for Garmin to make headway in smartwatches.
"Combined together," remarks Mawston, "Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin are the big four players, accounting for eight in 10 of all smartwatches shipped worldwide."