The global smartphone market has been slowly shrinking for a number of quarters now, but over in the smartwatch segment growth has so far been unstoppable. The first quarter of 2019 was no different, with Counterpoint Research estimating year-on-year growth of 48%.
The Apple Watch continued to dominate thanks to ECG
Although Apple has now lost its second-place position in the smartphone market to Huawei, the Cupertino giant continues to lead the smartwatch market by a significant margin. Throughout the first three months of the year, the Apple Watch accounted for a whopping 35.8% of all smartwatch sales, a figure that is up slightly from the 35.5% market share Apple held 12 months earlier.
According to Counterpoint’s report, Apple Watch sales grew an impressive 49% during the quarter. The growth was led primarily by the popularity of Series 4 models, but the larger display and upgraded internals haven’t proven to be the most popular features. Instead, the ECG capability in the Apple Watch is apparently the “most desirable feature,” thus suggesting Apple’s bets on health are beginning to pay off.
Until recently, the ECG feature was limited to Series 4 owners in the US. But as of late March, consumers living in the UK, Hong Kong, France, Germany, Italy, and Spain in addition to 14 other countries can now benefit from the feature. This, presumably, will help maintain strong year-on-year growth until the Apple Watch Series 5 arrives later this year.
Samsung also grew thanks to the Galaxy Watch
Following Apple in a distant second was Samsung. Throughout the three-month period the South Korean giant saw its sales skyrocket 127% year-on-year due primarily to the popularity of last year’s Galaxy Watch. As an added bonus, during the final weeks of the quarter Samsung received a boost from the newer Galaxy Watch Active.
As Counterpoint points out, the Galaxy Watch and Galaxy Watch Active are great alternatives to the Apple Watch for both Samsung and Android users in general. This also gives Samsung lots of room to grow its market share in the future.
Speaking of market share, during Q1 2019 Samsung accounted for a respectable 11.1% of all smartwatch sales, up significantly from the 7.2% share it held just one year earlier. This growth was enough to push Samsung up into second place overall.
Just below Samsung throughout the quarter in third, fourth, and fifth place respectively were Imoo, Fitbit, Xiaomi’s Amazfit. Sitting outside of the top 5 in sixth place was Huawei with a market share of 2.8%.
Huawei failed to enter the top 5
This figure is far from the level of dominance Huawei presently experiences in the smartphone market, but it does still represent decent growth for the brand – twelve months earlier the company accounted for less than 0.5% of smartwatch sales.
According to Counterpoint, the Huawei Watch GT has performed pretty decently since it was announced last October. The smartwatch’s feature set and affordability have proven particularly popular among consumers, while Huawei’s growing smartphone user base and brand value has also benefited sales.
Another factor that appears to be positively benefiting Huawei is its dual-brand strategy. Over the past year the company has refocused the Honor brand on fitness bands while Huawei now concentrates on smartwatches. These efforts seem to have boosted its sales in both segments.
Regarding the future of the smartwatch segment, Counterpoint believes the recent Nubia Alpha is an indication of where things will eventually go. As flexible displays become more common, it expects more smartwatch manufacturers to adopt the panels. However, it does warn that they are unlikely to become mainstream designs until after 2025.