Canalys released today its latest read on the North American wearable band market. During the second quarter of this year (April through June), a total of 7.7 million units were delivered in the continent, up a strong 38% from the 5.6 million units shipped last year. The data shows the Apple Watch with a commanding 37.9% share of the market during the quarter. Apple shipped 2.9 million smartwatches over the three months compared to the 2.2 million it delivered during the same period last year for an improvement of 32%. Despite the increase in shipments, Apple's market share actually declined from the 39.5% share it had during last year's second quarter.
Samsung had the best annual gain as its shipments soared 121% from 400,000 in Q2 2018 to 800,000 this year. That gave it 10.6% of the North American wearable band market during the period, good enough for third place after Apple and Fitbit. The latter shipped 1.9 million units in the continent from April through June, one million units behind Apple. Fitbit had a 24.1% slice of the NA wearable band market in the quarter following an 18% improvement in shipments year-over-year. Garmin took fourth place with a share of 7% with Fossil rounding out the top five with a 4.1% share.
Cellular connectivity and health-related features are driving the market
Canalys notes that Samsung's huge annual gain was led by strong demand for its fitness-focused Galaxy Watch Active series, priced in the sweet spot between $200-$300. The research firm notes that the $200 to $299 price segment is the area being targeted in North America by smartwatch manufacturers. 32% of the wearable band devices shipped in the continent during the second quarter were in that price range, while 28% of the units shipped carried a price tag in the range of $300-$399.
So what is driving the smartwatch market in North America? According to Canalys that would be cellular connectivity and certain health features. But the research firm says that the Apple Watch will be hard to beat with its combination of LTE connectivity and collection of health-related data.
The Apple Watch Series 4 has a pair of breakout new features that are being copied by Samsung on the Galaxy Watch Active 2. One is the electrocardiogram (ECG) monitor that looks for abnormal heartbeats, a sign of Atrial fibrillation (Afib). The latter can cause strokes, heart disease, blood clots, and death. The second feature is fall detection, which can detect when the person wearing the watch falls. If that occurs, the watch will sound an alarm and give the user an opportunity to call for help. If the watch senses that the user is not moving, it will automatically call 9-1-1 and send text messages to the person's emergency contacts list with the location of the user.