NEW DELHI: A lockdown in China notwithstanding due to the covid-19 pandemic, global smartwatch sales grew 12% in the first quarter (Q1) of calendar year 2020. Apple once again was the top brand, shipping over 5 million units, according to Canalys, a Singapore-based research firm.
Apple onboarded 4 million new active users of its smartwatches during this period, taking its total user base to an estimated 70 million. Canalys expects lifetime Apple Watch shipments to cross 100 million units in the next three months.
According to Canalys, Apple’s success can be attributed to its latest operator partnerships in Southeast Asia and Latin America. Though Apple shipped more units than any other smartwatch brand in Q1 and accounted for 36% of the market, its annual performance was poor, with Q1 shipments dropping 12% year-on-year and market share declining from 46.7%.
“Strong overseas demand for smartwatches helped offset the Apple Watch’s slow performance in Europe and North America, which was due to Apple customers switching their attention to AirPods as a must-have accessory. Notably, Samsung and Garmin increased Q1 sell-in to these markets,” Vincent Thielke, analyst, Canalys, said in a statement..
Huawei emerged as the fastest growing smartwatch vendor with an YoY growth of 113% in Q1. The Chinese company’s market share increased from 7.9% in Q1 2019 to 14.9% in Q1 2020, while shipments increased from 1 million to 2.1 million. Samsung with annual growth rate of 46% and market share of 12.4% was the third leading brand in the first quarter.
Garmin also registered a 39% annual growth and improved its market share from 5.9% a year ago to reach 7.3%.
Google-owned Fitbit also featured in the top five, but its shipments fell 21% YoY and market share shrunk to 6.2% in Q1 2020 from 8.9% a year ago.
Smartwatch shipments in China grew 66% in the last quarter, while North America, for the first time, accounted for less than a third of global smartwatch shipments.
Researchers at Canalys feel China will be the key driver in the smartwatch market in 2020 on account of having recovered from the impact of lockdown sooner and due to push from local brands such as Huawei, Xiaomi and Oppo which has recently entered the segment.