Smartwatch Market Jumps 20% Amid Pandemic

Conor Cawley

Apparently not every industry is seeing losses due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From supply chain disruptions to small business closures, the pandemic has laid waste to the economy in more ways than one. However, a few industries — like online retailers — have seen some pretty serious growth, likely fueled by the many stay-at-home orders in place across the US.

Now, it would appear smartwatches are among those essential pandemic purchases given the substantial increase in shipments over the last few months.

Smartwatches on the Rise

According to the latest research from Strategy Analytics, global smartwatch shipments have increased by 20% annually to kick off 2020, even with the pandemic in full swing.

“Despite considerable headwinds from the Covid-19 scare, global demand for smartwatches continued to grow,” said Steven Waltzer, Senior Industry Analyst at Strategy Analytics in the press release.

Overall, the percentage represented a pretty hefty increase for smartwatches, with 13.4 million units shipping in Q1 of 2020, compared to the 11.4 units that shipped in Q1 of 2019.

However, Strategy Analytics don't expect this trend to continue. The study notes that continued lockdown rules, keeping people inside, could cut sales down dramatically in Q2. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel, as the second half of the year is expected to see businesses opening and stay-at-home orders lifted, which should restart the market.

Why Are Smartwatches on the Rise?

For one, smartwatches are readily available via online retailers at market price, unlike, say, toilet paper. Whether you're getting them from Amazon, Apple, or anywhere else online, you can be assured that the product will arrive without a massive mark-up. Additionally, personal health is a focus for many right now, which makes a fitness-tracking smartwatch all the more prudent.

“Smartwatches are selling well through online retail channels, while many consumers have been using smartwatches to monitor their health and fitness during virus lockdown,” said Waltzer.

To be clear, smartwatches and other fitness trackers cannot detect Covid-19 (although the idea is far from impossible). However, given the many other physical and mental health benefits of smartwatches, like sleep notifications and activity tracking, it's safe to say users are hoping these devices will help them stay in good shape during the pandemic, and who could blame them?

The Smartwatch Competitors

While it may come as a bit of a surprise that the smartwatch market has been largely unaffected by the pandemic (so far), the list of top competitors is far from a shock.

Apple still dominates the smartwatch market with the incredibly popular Apple Watch, boasting a staggering 7.6 million units shipped, which represents 55% of the market share. Samsung comes in second place with 1.9 million units shipped, representing only 14% of the market share.

The one surprise in these numbers is the third place company, which is somehow Garmin. The GPS device seller turned smartwatch dynamo has shipped 1.1 million units in the first quarter of 2020, thanks largely in part to the increasing array of devices available and the surprisingly comprehensive Garmin Watch OS.

Companies like Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Huawei have struggled to get a solid footing, especially in the face of the pandemic. However, it would appear the market is ripe for the picking from the Android side of things, so it's anyone's game in the second half of 2020.

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Conor is the Senior Writer for Tech.co. For the last four years, he’s written about everything from Kickstarter campaigns and budding startups to tech titans and innovative technologies. His extensive background in stand-up comedy made him the perfect person to host tech-centric events like Startup Night at SXSW and the Timmy Awards for Tech in Motion. You can email Conor at conor@tech.co.

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