Big brands are set to lose share in a major shakeup of the smartwatch market.
According to Juniper Research, the largest brands in the category now will see their market share fall by 2023 as new niche players gain ground.
Four leading brands including Apple, Samsung, Fitbit, and Fossil will see sales decline from an estimated 58 per cent of the market last year to 47 per cent by 2023. The decline is due to the growth of smaller players such as Garmin, Huami and Huawei.
Smaller players will thrive thanks to strategies tailored for niche markets, their choice of cases or price points, while other brands are releasing premium smartwatches combining the best of fitness, outdoor activity and health features. While Apple will remain the largest single vendor in terms of shipments over the next four years, Huawei will enjoy the fastest growth, at a CAGR of 20 per cent.
An intensified focus on healthcare integration will also contribute to an increase in smartwatch shipments over the next few years. Juniper forecasts that Apple and Withings will lead this section, followed by Fitbit and Garmin.
China to become the biggest market
The rise of smaller players is linked to the rapid expansion of the Chinese market offering lower-priced smartwatches. The Far East and China have now overtaken North America as the largest geographical market, with more than 24 million smartwatches shipped last year, compared to 19.5 million in North America.
The gap between these two markets will widen by 2023, with the Far East and China trebling its shipments by then.
Slower hybrid market
The adoption of hybrid smartwatches will be slower than expected. Last year, hybrid smartwatches represented about 22 per cent of all smartwatch sales. The slower growth is linked to smaller players focusing on digital smartwatches offering more possibilities in terms of apps, connectivity and sensors than hybrid watches, which remain limited in their functionality.