A Q1 2023 Global Smartwatch Market report regrettably mixes high-end smartwatches with low-end <$25 devices that blurs the statistics
According to a new analytical report, the global smartwatch market, which had been experiencing steep growth for several years, has entered a period of stagnation since the end of last year when it declined 8% YoY in Q4 2022. This market declined another 1.5% in Q1 2023.
Due to the global economic downturn, high-priced smartwatches from Apple and Samsung took a bit of hit. Apple's market share for Apple Watch declined from 32% in Q1 2022 to 26% in Q1 2023 as presented in the chart below.
On the other hand, the market share of Basic smartwatches* significantly increased from 23% to 34% in Q1 driven by rapid growth in the Indian market primarily Fire Boltt who came from nowhere in Q1 2022 to 9% in Q1 2023 to tie Samsung.
Counterpoint's Market Summary
Apple: Apple Watch shipment volume fell 20% YoY in Q1 2023. This was the first time in three years that its Q1 shipments fell below 10 million units. As a result, Apple’s market share, which was 32% in Q1 2022, dropped to 26%. This can be attributed to the ongoing macroeconomic crisis, which has led to decreased accessibility to relatively higher-priced Apple Watches. Despite the Apple Watch Series 8’s release about a month ahead of its predecessor, it did not achieve the same level of success as the previous model.
Fire Boltt: Indian brand Fire-Boltt surpassed Samsung for the first time and reached the second position in the global market. Its shipments increased by approximately three times compared to the previous year and saw a 57% growth compared to the previous quarter. This reflects the rapid growth of the Indian market, just like other local brands such as Noise and boAt.
The only market to have shown signs of life in Q1 was the Indian market which grew from 12% in Q1 2022 to 27% in Q1 2023 for +121% growth.
Samsung: While Samsung experienced a 15% increase in shipments in its key market North America, it witnessed a decline in shipments in other major markets. As a result, its overall global shipments declined by 15% compared to the previous year and 21% compared to the previous quarter.
Huawei: Huawei, the most influential Chinese OEM, saw a 14% YoY decline in its shipments in the Chinese market, which is a key market for the company. However, Huawei saw increased shipments in India, LATAM and MEA, limiting its overall decline in global shipments to 9%. Huawei has been employing a strategy of relaunching models previously released for the Chinese market in the international market.
The problem with Counterpoint's report is that it's a customized a report designed to enhance the Indian market's position. They limited the report to only the top 3 brands instead of the traditional top 5 which is common practice. The report then mixes high-end smartwatches running high-level operating system that have the ability to install third-party apps with low-end watches at under $25, almost toys, that offer low-end operating systems that can't install third-party apps. Such watches aren't smartwatches and are close to being toys for prices below $25. That's like comparing a high-end steak dinner with a fast-food submarine sandwich.
When any report mixes and matches device types and prices to suit a market, such as India in this case, it's hard to take the report seriously. Hopefully Canalys and/or TrendForce will provide us with a more focused Global Smartwatch report for Q1 2023. Here's an example of what a more traditional smartwatch report looks like, where Indian brands have yet to make it into the top 5 Global Brands.