Apple Watch still on top during Q1 while a new challenger replaces Samsung as runner-up
Whether you're a fan of Apple devices or avoid them like the plague, you have to admit that the company has done an amazing job with the Apple Watch. Launched in April 2015, the timepiece is now the most popular watch in the world. That seems hard to believe when companies associated with watches like Rolex were founded over a hundred years ago. Even a brand like Casio, whose digital watches brought several applications to consumers' wrists, had a 41-year head start over Apple.
The Apple Watch has a new challenger but still kicks its butt
Today, research firm Canalys released first quarter smartwatch sales data showing that while Apple remained on top, after digging more deeply into the data, things weren't so rosy for the front-runner. Yes, Apple did control 36.3% of the global smartwatch market from January through March of this year and that figure was higher than the sum of the next three brands combined. But during the same time period last year, the Apple Watch had a global market share of 46.7%.
The Apple Watch continues to lead the smartwatch industry in market share
Even though the Apple Watch shipped 13% fewer units during this year's first quarter, watchOS gained 4 million new active users during the period. Apple's smartwatch operating system now has an installed base of 70 million users. Canalys says that overseas demand for the Apple Watch was strong during the first quarter which made up for slower demand in North America and Europe; on those two continents, the Bluetooth wireless AirPods replaced the Apple Watch as the "must-have" accessory for iPhone users.
During the first quarter, Apple shipped 5.2 million Apple Watch units according to Canalys. Huawei was a distant second with 2.1 million watches shipped during the quarter. The Chinese manufacturer had 14.9% of the market during the three months after more than doubling the number of timepieces it delivered during the quarter. However, some will read this, stand up, and yell "Foul!" After all, the new Huawei Watch GT 2 was included free with some purchases of a Huawei P40 series handset.
Huawei's surge dropped Samsung to number three with a 12.4% slice of the global smartwatch pie followed by Garmin and Fitbit at 7.3% and 6.2% respectively. Overall, 14.3 million smartwatches shipped worldwide during the first quarter for an annual gain of 12%. The sales gain came despite the COVID-19 pandemic.
Apple is expected to introduce the Apple Watch Series 6 this September alongside four shiny new 5G iPhone 12 handsets. The Apple Watch Series 6 will reportedly feature a pulse oximeter that measures the oxygen saturation of a user's blood. This information can help determine whether someone is getting enough oxygen pumped throughout his or her body. A reading in the range of 95% to 100% is considered normal. The pulse oximeter received a lot of press a few months ago when a doctor discovered a possible connection between patients with a very low blood oxygen reading and COVID-19 in certain people. This new feature will join the heart-rate monitor and the electro-cardiogram; the former is self-explanatory while the latter looks for abnormal heart rhythms that could be an early warning of atrial fibrillation.
Another feature believed to be coming to the next Apple Watch is the oft-requested native sleep tracker. Reports indicate that the Series 6 timepiece will get a boost in battery capacity which will allow Apple to track a user's sleep pattern. The new watch, according to reliable TF International analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, will also have improved water resistance and a faster processor. Considering Kuo's rather impressive track record over the years when it comes to Apple devices, there is a high probability that these improvements will be made.
So as we head further into 2020, it looks like the Apple Watch has a rather entrenched position at the top of not only the smartwatch world but the watch world in general.