Back in mid-February, we received some sales figures from NPD Group that showed the Apple Watch was the "clear market leader" in smartwatch shipments ahead of second place Samsung and third place Fitbit. Apple's position at the top came despite the fact that prices increased across the board for the Apple Watch Series 4.
New figures have come in from Strategy Analytics, and it's more of the same. According to the research firm, global smartwatch sales increased by 56 percent during Q4 2018 compared to the same period in 2017. Mirroring NPD Group's numbers, Strategy Analytics showed that Apple secured 51 percent of the smartwatch market, putting it firmly in first place.
Breaking down the numbers, Apple reportedly shipped 9.2 million Apple Watches during Q4 2018, up from 7.8 million in Q4 2017. Samsung leapfrogged Fitbit to capture second place, shipping 2.4 million units (compared to Fitbit's 2.3 million) during the quarter. Looking at the full-year totals, the difference between first place and second place is staggering: Apple Watch units shipped totaled 22.5 million for 2018, compared to 5.3 million for Samsung, 5.5 million for Fitbit, and 3.2 million for Garmin.
Despite Apple's seemingly strong performance, Strategy Analytics warned that Samsung and Fitbit are slowly eroding its market share. This will likely accelerate as Samsung and Fitbit expand their smartphone portfolios for 2019. Samsung, for example, just announced the Galaxy Watch Active, which is priced at $199 and incorporates a built-in blood pressure monitor.
“Rising competition from Fitbit, Samsung and others in the sports and music categories is making it harder for Garmin to make headway in smartwatches,” said Neil Mawston, Executive Director for Strategy Analytics. “Combined together, Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and Garmin are the big four players, accounting for 8 in 10 of all smartwatches shipped worldwide.”
Earlier this week, it was reported that future versions of the Apple Watch will feature native sleep tracking, something that its competitors have long featured as part of their health software suites.