Proprietary and Android-based wearables continued to eat into Apple's stranglehold on the smartwatch segment of the wearables market in the second half of 2018, according to the most recent report from ABI Research. Other OEMs such as Fitbit, Huawei, and Samsung still have a long way to go before they catch up, lagging behind at approximately 8-percent of the market share each. The collective efforts of those manufacturers have nevertheless brought Apple's market share to around 43.35-percent. ABI Research chalks the trend up to increasing discernment of a wearable's cost compared to the value it offers, with Apple's Watch 4 -- costing just short of $400 with no LTE support and $500 with LTE networking included. That gadgets battery runs for around 18 hours between charges, is only compatible with iOS smartphones, and has additional features such as fall detection and medical-grade ECG.
Comparatively, Samsung's latest smartwatch, the Galaxy Watch, costs around $100 less at $329 or $379 with or without 4G support. It does lack a fall sensor and full ECG features but also lasts around 3 days and its cross-platform compatibility means both iOS and Android users can take advantage of the nearly identical remaining features. Similarly, products from Fitbit are even more affordable. The OEM's Fitbit Versa costs around $200 with no support for LTE and without the added Wear OS features. It's similar enough to the Samsung Galaxy Watch that consumers are willing to give those up in favor of four days of battery life and support for both Android and iOS, ABI Research says. Between those two devices is Huawei's Watch GT, with advanced AI features tied to its heart rate monitoring, in addition to a battery life of around 14 days and cross-platform compatibility. That starts at right around $230 -- approximately over $200 less than Apple's more expensive offering.
Wearables are growing
The recently reported shift in market control was in spite of the fact that the market for wearable devices has grown and is presently expected to grow by 153-percent over the next three years according to the market analysts at Gartner. By 2022, the firm predicts that as many as 115.2 million wearables will ship globally in the smartwatch category alone. The expectation is that the segment will have shifted to second place from its leading position among all wearables out that point, outpaced only by ear-worn wearables at 158.43 million shipments around the world. International Data Corporation (IDC) made a less ambitious but similar prediction in June, placing the growth rate for all wearable at around 54.4-percent over from 2018 through 2022, with total shipments falling in at 199.8 million units.
Android OEM innovations could shrink the gap
ABI Research predicts that Apple will continue to lead in terms of market share moving forward but indicates that the current state of affairs isn't likely to shift back in the company's favor. Instead, consumers will probably continue shifting away from the company in favor of smartwatches that are compatible with their phones with similar features at a lower cost and with better battery life but made by other manufacturers, the firm concludes. A lot of the movement on that front may also be attributable to continual innovations from Android manufacturers. While fashion-first smartwatches remain more of a niche market, companies such as LG Electronics and Samsung are making headway to push the technology in a more tech-first direction. LG, for example, has recently been spotted patenting features such as a camera built directly into the watch band. That would be adjustable for both outward or selfie photos as well as offering barcode of QR code reading features and other software enhancements. If manufacturers continue to make those kinds of contributions to the smartwatch industry, the nearly 35-percent gap in market share could easily disappear more quickly.