Consumer Electronics

Apple Controls Half of World's Smartwatch Business

Douglas A. McIntyre

The smartwatch industry shipped 14 million units in the third quarter. The figure was spread across several manufacturers. However, none was close to Apple, which shipped 48% of the total for the period.

The smartwatch business is among the fastest-growing consumer electronics sectors in the world. Total smartwatch shipments were up 42% in the third quarter, according to industry tracking firm Strategic Analytics. Steven Waltzer, senior analyst at the research operation, said, “Global smartwatch shipments grew an impressive 42 percent annually from 10.0 million units in Q3 2018 to 14.2 million in Q3 2019. Smartwatch growth continues to soar, as consumers increasingly accessorize their smartphones with fitness-led and health-focused wearables.”

Apple shipped 6.8 million units in the third quarter, up 52% from the period a year ago. The next two companies in terms of shipment were far behind. Samsung units shipped were 1.9 million, up 73%. Fitbit shipped 1.6 million, up 7%. Google will buy Fitbit for $2.1 billion in an effort to enter the smartwatch market.

Smartwatches provide a wide range of functions. As tablet and PC sales slow, they are seen as the next products that will drive top lines at a number of large consumer electronics companies. They are used for a range of functions from health care monitoring to cellular phone devices. One Fitbit product runs Amazon’s Alexa software, which allows consumers to track sleep and fitness data. Other Fitbit products have more basic functions, such as simple fitness tracking.

Apple Watch is now in its fifth generation. The smartwatch tracks fitness and certain heart functions. It also offers access to the 50 million songs in the Apple Music library. It can load a number of apps available at Apple’s App Store.

The scramble for market share among the smartwatch companies will continue. Apple has the advantage of its brand, distributed based of iPhones and a large number of apps that work on its smartwatch. Even consumer electronics giants like Samsung will find it hard to field products and services that could catapult them into the industry lead, or even draw a large market share from Apple.