The wearables market is booming right now thanks to smartwatches like the Apple Watch Series 4 that debuted in September, and other wearables like the Fitbit Versa and Samsung Galaxy Watch. When the wearables segment was young, devices were aimed mostly at technology loving people and were seen almost exclusively as a gadget for tech fans.
Wearables are now making their way into other markets as a tool for fitness and to help people monitor severe health conditions like heart arrhythmias. Apple has focused its Apple Watch Series 4 wearable not only at tech and gadget fans but also directly at people with health problems and the elderly who are at risk of falls; the fall detection feature was proven to work as advertised by a stuntwoman and could be a literal lifesaver for the elderly.
Global smartwatch shipments are soaring right now on the back of the Apple Watch and Fitbit wearables
Fitbit gained significantly in the last quarter shipping 1.5 million smartwatch units compared to none in the same quarter of 2017. It now holds 15% of the global smartwatch market compared to 0% of the market a year ago. StrategyAnalytics reports that the Fitbit Versa line has proven very popular in the North American market; Fitbit is focused on driving that growth by pushing into Asia, Latin America, and Europe next year.
As Apple and Fitbit boom, their growth appears to come at the expense of Samsung which held 11% of the global smartwatch marketshare in Q3 2018, scant 1% growth from the 10% it held in Q3 2017. The upside for Samsung is that even though it grew only a single percentage point, that does represent its first marketshare gain in over a year. Its Galaxy Watch is selling well thanks to improved hardware and Samsung's marketing machine.
Sitting behind Samsung in the smartwatch market is Garmin, the second significant player in the wearables realm to see a decline in marketshare for the quarter. Garmin holds 8% of the smartwatch market, down from 10% the previous year showing that rising competition from the top three players is hurting Garmin. Garmin's smartwatches, like the Instinct introduced last month, tend to focus on the outdoor crowd with features for sports like skiing or hiking making it more of a niche manufacturer. Other smartwatch manufacturers shipped a combined 2.1 million units in Q3 2018, up significantly from the 1.2 million shipped in Q3 2017. Overall the smartwatch market grew 67% in Q3 2018, blasting past the 22.4% growth seen in Q3 2017.