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Smartwatches continue to 'tick' off as shipments leap 42% in Q3

Alvin R. Cabral/Dubai
Filed on November 8, 2019 | Last updated on November 8, 2019 at 09.35 pm
The Apple Watch is enjoying a 47.9 per cent market share in the smartwatch market.

(Reuters file)

Apple continues to dominate market; market to balloon 20% to $27.4B by 2021

Smartwatch shipments once again leapt in the third quarter of 2019, with Apple continuing to pad its lead over the rest of the pack, in a further sign of growing acceptance among users thanks mainly to health-related features.

Research from Strategy Analytics showed that worldwide smartwatch shipments jumped 42 per cent year-on-year in the third quarter of 2019, hitting 14.2 million units.

Apple and Samsung - rivals in the upper echelon of smartphones - have now firmly established taking their act into the smartwatch space as well: The tech giants scored year-on-year growths of 51 per cent and 73 per cent, respectively, in this arena.

Gartner, meanwhile, forecasts that spending in the overall wearable device market will grow to $40.6 billion in 2019, with smartwatches alone pegged to top $17 billion this year.

"Smartwatch growth continues to soar, as consumers increasingly accessorise their smartphones with fitness-led and health-focused wearables," Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, wrote in the report.

Apple once again dominated the market, shipping 6.8 million units in the third quarter, up from 4.5 per cent in the year-ago period. Samsung clocked in at 1.9 million, up from 4.4 million, while market pioneer Fitbit - which was recently acquired by Google for $2.1 billion - inched up from 1.5 million to 1.6 million.

The iPhone-maker's market share during the three-month period was at 47.9 per cent, miles ahead of second-placed Samsung's 13.4 per cent. Fitbit held on to third with 11.3 per cent.

Apple has repeatedly touted that its Apple Watch has consistently topped the market in its quarterly financial conference calls - though the company has never bared any specific numbers.

Combined, the three companies made up 10.3 million of all shipments, or 72.6 per cent of the entire market.

However, the 42 per cent year-on-year growth for the smartwatch sector was significantly lower compared to the 67 per cent it achieved in the same quarter a year ago.

Meanwhile, Gartner's latest report showed that global user spending on wearable devices will rise to $51.5 billion in 2020, up 27 per cent from this year's $40.6 billion; the latter figure is pegged to grow a further 22 per cent to $63 billion by 2021.

Smartwatches, once again, would dominate: The research company says that splurging on these gadgets will leap 33 per cent from $17 billion in 2019 to $22.8 billion next year.

And by 2021, the 2020 figure would further balloon 20 per cent to $27.4 billion.

The dynamics between the high-end and lower-tier segments will also play a key role in how prices will shape up.

"More users coming into the smartwatch segment are replacing wristbands with smartwatches," said Ranjit Atwal, senior research director at Gartner.

"While brand leaders the Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch command premium pricing in the smartwatch segment, lower-priced players such as Xiaomi and Huawei will counterbalance high-priced smartwatches with lower cost smartwatches. We expect average selling prices of smartwatches to decline 4.5 per cent between 2020 and 2021."

Health matters and more

While health features have been the clear selling point for smartwatches and wrist-worn wearables in general, users are gradually discovering the benefits of other items on these devices' menu.

The International Data Corporation (IDC), in a recent report, says that shipments of wrist-worn wearables - including smartwatches, basic watches and bands - hit 34.2 million units, up 28.8 per cent year-over-year during the second quarter of 2019.

The research firm's Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker said the the top five companies in this space - Xiaomi, Apple, Huawei, Fitbit and Samsung - were aggressive with new products and promotional campaigns during the quarter, helping them capture 65.7 per cent of the market, an almost 12-point gain from last year.

"Health is now at the forefront for these devices since companies have started providing actionable insights and prescriptive measures for end users," said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

"Beyond health, mobile payment is also starting to become a mainstay as roughly two out of five wrist-worn wearables now include NFC, and many more simply use QR codes to complete transactions."

"While the wrist-worn form factor has been very popular, the other important part is the experience," added Ramon T. Llamas, research director for wearables at IDC.

"Glancing at data - like notifications, fitness stats, and even checking the time - remain the popular use case, but to be able to interact with the device via smart assistants, scroll easily through data with the rotating bezel, or connecting to smart home applications and devices raises wrist-worn wearables' utility. Layer on top of this the growing market for applications on smartwatches, and the value of these devices increases further."

- alvin@khaleejtimes.com


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