Apple Watch Dominates Surging Wearables Market, 16 Percent Of American Adults Own A Smartwatch

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The smartwatch market is booming according to research firm The NPD Group. When they first hit the market, smartwatches were seen as an unnecessary (and expensive) accessory for a smartphone, but as companies have pivoted towards more fitness- and health-centric features, that market has expanded at a rapid clip.

In fact, The NPD Group says that for a twelve-month period ending in November 2018, U.S. smartwatch [dollar] sales exploded 51 percent year-over-year to $5 billion, and unit sales of the devices increased by 61 percent. Although individual numbers weren't broken down by manufacturers, The NPD Group says that the Apple Watch was the "clear market leader" during the 12-month period.

Interestingly, a total of three companies have completely cornered the market. According to NPD Group, Apple, Samsung, and Fitbit combined for 88 percent of all U.S. smartwatch unit sales for the period ending in November. However, it's expected that brands like Fossil and Garmin are positioning themselves to make gains for 2019 to take a bite out of the share amassed by the "Big 3".

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A full 16 percent of U.S. adults own a smartwatch, with the 18 to 34 age demographic seeing the greatest adoption (23 percent). But it is expected that a greater emphasis on health-related monitoring may increase adoption for older Americans -- particularly with respect to the Apple Watch. 

If you recall, the Apple Watch Series 4 introduced two features in particular that might be appealing to America's aging population. The first is the built-in ECG, which can detect atrial fibrillation, while the second feature is fall detection, which can accurately identify when a person has taken a tumble by accident. If the person falls and is unresponsive for a set period of time, emergency services can automatically be dialed.

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“Over the last 18 months smartwatch sales gained strong momentum, proving the naysayers, who didn’t think the category could achieve mainstream acceptance, had potentially judged too soon,” said Weston Henderek, who serves as an industry analyst for NPD Connected Intelligence.

Neither the Apple Watch Series 4, nor the Samsung Galaxy Watch are cheap purchases, ringing in at around $400 and $280 respectively (street prices). With that being said, it doesn't appear that the Apple Watch's generational price increases have blunted its popularity according to these latest sales figures.