Apple Watch retook the top spot in wearables during the September quarter, according to research firm Canalys. Apple shipped 3.9 million Apple Watch units during the 3rd quarter, including some 800,000 Apple Watch Series 3 with cellular. Those numbers are Canalys estimates, as Apple doesn’t reveal shipping numbers for Apple Watch.
Canalys also said that sales of Apple Watch were suppressed due to limited availability of the Series 3.
As shown in the chart, competition for the top three spots was tight. Apple was #1 with 23% of the market, while Xiaomi was #2 with 21% of the market. Fitbit came in third with 21%. Huawei was a distant fourth with 6%, while Samsung took the fifth spot with 5%.
Wearables Canalys Analysis
“Apple and Samsung are increasing user stickiness and brand loyalty by adopting an ecosystem strategy, which includes wearables and audio accessories,” Canalys Research Analyst Mo Jia said in a statement. “Smartphone vendors must reevaluate their respective smartwatch strategies to derive more value beyond smartphone growth.”
It’s hard to see the argument that Samsung is doing this same thing Apple is doing based on those numbers. But maybe that’s just nitpicking.
Market share based on outside estimates is tricky, at best, and there’s a limit to how closely one should take these numbers. They do, however, offer a way to keep abreast of trends in any given space. The trend I’m seeing is that wearables are being dominated by Apple, a fitness tracking company (Fitbit), and a we-make-all-kinds-of-random-wearables company (Xiaomi).
That leaves Android Wear and whatever Samsung thinks it’s doing an increasing afterthought in this market.
To that end, Canalys Analyst Jason Low said, “Google must show stronger commitment to help Android Wear vendors, which are now mostly watchmakers and fashion brands, to further improve the user experience and app ecosystem. Otherwise, the market will see further consolidation, as vendors such as Apple, Samsung and Fitbit dominate with their watch software platforms.”
Firstly, it’s weird to include Samsung at the top. I mean, really weird. Sub out Xiaomi for Samsung in that quote, and it makes a lot more sense. Secondly, Canalys’s recipe for Google and Android Wear isn’t bad advice, but those aren’t the kinds of things Google excels at. Accordingly, look for Apple, Xiaomi, and Fitbit to continue to dominate, each with very different strategies.