Apple Watch dominates global smartwatch sales with 55% market share in first quarter

Smartwatch sales have benefited as appetite for wearable technology grows amid Covid-19, according to Strategy Analytics

Apple Watches accounted for more than half of all smartwatch sales in the first quarter of this year even as overall smartphone shipments grew 20 per cent from the prior-year period.

Nearly 13.7 million smartwatches were sold in the three months to March 31, up from 11.4 million units during the same period last year, according to a report from Strategy Analytics. Apple Watch led the market, selling 7.6 million units and claiming a 55.5 per cent of the total share.

Apple Watch shipments rose an “above-average 23 per cent from 6.2 million in the first quarter of last year”, said Neil Mawston, executive director at the US market research company.

“Apple Watch continues to fend off strong competition from hungry rivals like Garmin and Samsung ... it owns half the worldwide smartwatch market and remains the clear industry leader,” he added.

Despite considerable headwinds from the Covid-19 pandemic, global demand for smartwatches continued to grow in the first quarter, according to Steven Waltzer, senior analyst at Strategy Analytics.

Apple Watch continues to fend off strong competition from hungry rivals like Garmin and Samsung

“Smartwatches are selling well through online retail channels, while many consumers have been using smartwatches to monitor their health and fitness during virus lockdown.”

Samsung and Garmin trailed with 13.9 per cent and 8 per cent of global market share, respectively.

Samsung shipped 1.9 million smartwatches globally in first three months of the year, inching up slightly from 1.7 million a year ago.

“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 competitors like Garmin,” Mr Waltzer said.

Garmin, based in Kansas, returned to third position for the first time in two years and shipped 1.1 million smartwatches worldwide in the first quarter, an annual increase of 37.5 per cent.

Garmin’s enhanced new models, such as the Venu with OLED (Organic Light Emitting Diodes) colour touchscreen, are proving popular with sports and fitness fans across North America and elsewhere who like to track their daily activity, said Mr Mawston.

Despite a good run in the first quarter, the research firm is predicting a slowdown in smartwatch sales during the second quarter due to virus-led disruptions but said that the industry will rebound soon.

“Sales in Europe and the US have inevitably been hit by virus lockdown in recent months,” said Woody Oh, director at Strategy Analytics.

“However, the second half of this year and beyond will see a decent rebound, as consumers worldwide steadily regain confidence and more retail stores reopen.”

Smartwatches continue to have "excellent long-term prospects", as younger and older people will become more health-conscious in a post-virus world, he added.

To attract health-conscious people and increase its market share, Apple is planning to add a new feature to monitor blood oxygen levels and an upgraded electrocardiography (ECG) app into its upcoming Watch Series 6.