Strategy Analytics issued a research paper detailing the market performance of major smartwatch manufacturers throughout the fourth quarter of 2018, revealing that Samsung managed to climb up the ranks and secure the second place by overtaking Garmin. Meanwhile, the Apple Watch remains the most popular smartwatch on the market with a 50.7-percent global market share.
Last quarter the smartwatch market as a whole grew by 56-percent compared to the fourth quarter of 2017 when 11.6 million smartwatches were shipped. In Q4 2018, the figure increased to 18.2 million, and throughout the entire year, global smartwatch shipments topped 45 million units, representing an all-time high for the industry.
The Apple Watch remains the most popular smartwatch, with the report claiming that the Cupertino-based tech giant shipped 9.2 million Watch units globally in the fourth quarter of 2018, representing an 18-percent increase from a year before. However, Apple's smartwatch market share declined to 50.7-percent from 67.2-percent year-on-year, and this is attributed to Samsung and other competitors gaining more traction.
Samsung managed to increase its performance over the same timeframe and overtook Garmin in terms of both shipments and market share, securing the second spot and dethroning the U.S.-based company. In Q4 2018, Samsung shipped 2.4 million units up from 0.6 million units a year before and increased its market share from 5.2-percent to 13.2-percent.
Meanwhile, Garmin increased its market share to 6.1-percent up from 6.0-percent and bumped its vendor shipment from 0.7 million wearables in Q4 2017 to 1.1 million units a year later. Fitbit also shipped more wearables in Q4 last year compared to 2017 and secured a 12.7-percent market share, up from 4.3-percent. Its global vendor shipments topped 2.3 million units.
According to the paper, Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin remain the top four players in the smartwatch market, and the four brands account for 80-percent of smartwatches shipped worldwide. All in all, the smartwatch segment seems to be healthier than it has ever been, as an increasing number of smartphone owners gain an interest in pairing their mobile devices with smart wrist wearables.
The Korean OEM unveiled a brand new smartwatch earlier this month – the Samsung Galaxy Watch Active – and the latest model introduces some fundamental changes compared to the OEM's previous wearables.
Particularly, the new Galaxy Watch Active no longer has a rotating bezel surrounding the circular display. This feature has been a part of the OEM's smartwatch portfolio for the past several years, but the latest model redefines Samsung's smart timepiece with an exterior design overhaul.
In essence, Samsung's smartphones have continued to trim their bezels with each new generation, and it seems like the same philosophy has been applied to this year's wearable. Likewise, the software has been updated with a new user interface based on the OEM's One UI design language, matching the software shipping with the Samsung Galaxy S10 flagship series.
The report doesn't mention other wearable categories such as activity trackers, and it remains to be seen whether Samsung will maintain its newly-earned second spot in the smartwatch market throughout 2018, with the help of the Galaxy Watch Active. The device will launch on March 8 for the price of $199.