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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 14 November 2018

Apple clocks competition with 45% smart watch market share

Runner-up Fitbit holds 15 per cent of the market by comparison

Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, explaining the Apple Watch Series 4 during its launch in Cupertino. AP
Jeff Williams, Apple's chief operating officer, explaining the Apple Watch Series 4 during its launch in Cupertino. AP

The smart watch industry is being dominated by Apple, which has captured 45 per cent of global market share, but the competition is winding up as more people become willing to wear tech-enabled devices, according to a new report.

By comparison, second and third-placed Fitbit and Samsung had 15 and 11 per cent market share through the third quarter, respectively, according to US-based research firm Strategy Analytics.

Smart watch sales worldwide grew 67 per cent annually to 10 million units in the third quarter of 2018, said Steven Waltzer, industry analyst at Strategy Analytics. “Smart watch growth is soaring, as consumers increasingly seek to accessorise their smartphones,” he said.

Indeed, people in the region are opting to wear their technology more and more. In the Middle East and Africa, wearables are projected to grow more than 15 per cent by number of devices sold as of year-end, compared to 2017.

Tech companies are boosting investment in wearables to diversify income as demand for smartphones falls.

Apple, which posted quarterly revenue of $62.9 billion in its fourth fiscal quarter ending September 29, shipped close to 4.5 million devices, while Fitbit and Samsung shipped 1.5 and 1.1 million smart watches, respectively, in the same period.

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Apple launched its latest Watch Series 4 model last month, and while the world's biggest technology company is the leader in smart watches, it saw a significant drop in sales when compared to last year.

“Apple is facing growing competition from a revitalised Fitbit and Samsung. Its new Watch Series 4 model was a badly needed addition to its armoury,” said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

Last quarter, South Korea's Samsung recorded its first global market share gain in smart watches in a year and sales in the Arabian Gulf have grown three-fold in the past three years, the second-biggest market share in MEA.

The company, the global leader in smartphone sales, recently introduced its new Galaxy Watch to the region.

“The smart watch is no more only a smart watch or just a tool, but it is now a fashion that is part of their [consumers] day-to-day life,” Tarek Sabbagh, head of IT and mobile division of Samsung Gulf Electronics, told The National. So far the company has marketed smart watches designed in collaboration with Tumi and Mr Sabbagh said Samsung is looking to partner with more designers - a move that could compete with Apple's tie-ups with Hermès and Nike.

The biggest gainer so far is Fitbit, rising from zero market share a year ago to the number two spot. Its Versa portfolio is proving wildly popular across North America and the company is now eyeing growth in Europe and Asia.