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A Research Report by NPD Confirms Apple Watch Market Dominance but Blurs the Line Favoring Apple's Competitors

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In the wearables market for smartwatches the Apple Watch has been the runnaway winner hands down quarter after quarter. In Q2 2018, Apple held 41% market share. Now market research company The NPD Group reports that dollar sales of smartwatches in the U.S. were up 51 percent, totaling nearly $5 billion in sales, while unit sales saw a 61 percent increase with Apple Watch the clear winner.


Weston Henderek, director, industry analyst for NPD Connected Intelligence: "Over the last 18 months smartwatch sales gained strong momentum, proving the naysayers, who didn’t think the category could achieve mainstream acceptance, had potentially judged too soon.


The ability to be truly connected via built-in LTE without the need to have a smartphone nearby proved to be a tipping point for consumers, as they now recognize the value in being able to complete a wide range of tasks on the device including receiving notifications, messaging, accessing smart home controls, and more."


The report further noted that "Sixteen percent of U.S. adults now own a smartwatch, which is up from 12 percent in December of 2017, based on NPD’s Consumers and Wearables Report.


The younger 18-34 age demographic is currently carrying the overall growth in the smartwatch market with 23 percent penetration. However, as newer health focused devices such as the Apple Watch Series 4 continue to take hold in the next year, expect to see a big boost in penetration among older segments. Beyond health and fitness tracking, evolving use cases will help bolster the segment. For example, 15 percent of smartwatch owners now claim to use their devices to control home automation devices.


While the report notes that Apple is the clear market leader in smartwatches, it never provides statistics to prove it. Stats for Q3 2018 by Strategy Analytics as shown below, clearly show Apple as the clear leader over Fitbit by 3 times – and Fitbit makes most of it's revenue from fitness bands not smartwatches making Apple's pure smartwatch a runaway winner.


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Knowing the statistics from Strategy Analytics, it's disingenuous of NPD to not break out the winners by numbers. Instead they chose to simply bundle "Apple, Samsung, and Fitbit" into a single top tier unit making up 88 percent of smartwatch unit sales, when Samsung and Fitbit combined aren't able to touch Apple's market share.


The NPD research report was clearly designed to blur the leadership in the smartwatch market. Apple is the runaway winner in smartwatches without a single worthy competitor that could go toe to toe with Apple Watch. That's the reality at the moment.


Unfortunately Apple officially no longer provides sales data for Apple hardware and so going forward we'll only be able to get guesstimates from firms that are not always Apple friendly as the NPD report proved out.


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