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Apple Watch Recorded 50% Year-over-Year Growth in Q1-21 to Maintain its Global Smartwatch Leadership

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Global smartwatch shipments in Q1 2021 grew 35% YoY, according to a new report by Counterpoint. Apple maintained its leadership position, catalyzing the overall market growth by recording a 50% YoY increase in the demand for the new Series 6 models. As a result, Apple saw its market share climb by 3% points.


On the other hand, while Samsung’s shipments rose 27% YoY, the South Korean vendor’s growth was below the market average and it saw a small dip in its market share.


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Senior Analyst Sujeong Lim: "Apple was able to further solidify its leadership position in the market by widening the portfolio from Watch SE to Series 6 at the right time."  


In terms of smartwatch OS platforms, Apple’s WatchOS captured more than a third of the market with a growing attach rate to its base of billion iPhone users. Google’s Wear OS has not yet achieved such success in smartwatches. This is because most of the major smartwatch brands have developed and installed their own proprietary OS (like Fitbit OS, Tizen and Garmin OS).


This will change over time. Patently Apple posted a report on May 18 titled "Samsung & Google announced a new Single Unified Smartwatch Platform at Google I/O today to better take on Apple's watchOS." The combination of WearOS, Tizen and Fitbit watch operating systems accounts for approximately 15% of the smartwatch market in contrast to Apple's watchOS accounting for 33.5%. The need to catch up with Apple under a new single smartwatch platform was inevitable.


Lim added that "Hopefully, Google’s new Wear platform will be shipping in the next generation of the Galaxy Watch series in late Fall. It will be good for the companies involved. The focus would be to not only improve performance, such as battery life, but also improve on the AI, newer apps and services, and integration with Android smartphones. Samsung will also be able to better target the broader Android smartphone user base. With the completion of the acquisition of Fitbit, Google should be able to enhance the Wear platform with ‘fitness’ capabilities and services integration, moving forward."


Highlighting why there is so much excitement for wrist wearables among tech companies, Vice President Research Neil Shah said that "Wearable devices and services are going to become important for companies such as Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon as they increasingly expand their reach in healthcare, pharmaceutical and insurance verticals directly or indirectly. This can include selling services such as Apple Fitness+, predictively cross-selling medicines and healthcare solutions, or attracting marketers to their ad platforms based on the health profiles built with the enormous amount of data generated via the number of sensors on these wearable devices.


Further, the addition of advanced voice AI and ML capabilities on these devices will make wrist as one of the key segments technology companies will go after this decade before adding eyes/brain-based advanced wearable devices to the mix."


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