I’ve long said here that I like Wear OS and that it will eventually go on to be a much more dominant player in the smartwatch market. I have to admit to being somewhat unsure of that prediction in 2020 and throughout 2021 as Wear OS somewhat languished its way towards apparent obscurity.
That’s all now changed as Google bought Fitbit with the obvious plan that future Fitbit watches will run Wear OS. Indeed high-end Fitbit devices were touted to arrive around about now by Fitbit’s CEO – but there’s no sign of them.
Google’s agreement with Samsung that the latter should run Wear OS 3 on their Galaxy Watch4 was also a sign that things were about to change for the better for Wear OS. But change by how much?? Watch4 is essentially only really useful if you have a recent, high-end Samsung Galaxy phone. So that pair up represents genuine growth for Wear OS as some Samsung owners are moved across to Wear OS 3 from Tizen. But leaves all the other players like Fossil in the lurch until mid-2022 when Google will graciously allow SOME of their watches to work with Wear OS 3 for the first time.
What’s Changed Today?
Research from Counterpoint suggests that year on year market share growth for Wear OS in Q3 has seen it move from 4% (four) to 17% (seventeen)!
“Samsung performed better than expected in the third quarter. Although the Galaxy Watch 4 series shipments were much higher than expected, more than 60% of the total shipments were sold in North America and Europe, where the share of mid-to-high price range models is high. To further increase its market share, Samsung is expected to launch affordable models within 2-3 years to target the fast-growing Asian market.
One-third of smartwatches sold in Q3 2021 were priced under $100,” said Counterpoint Analyst, Sujeong Lim.
Expect the Wear OS market share to increase by well over 5 percentage points once Fitbit models are included in Wear OS figures during H1.2022. By this time next year Wear OS might have a 30% share of shipments with a very favourable wind.
Apple’s share (of shipments) has fallen from 28% to 21.8% in the same period, due in part to the late arrival of the AW7. Expect this sort of market share level to be stabilised or to increase slightly with Watch SE Gen 2 perhaps encouraging AW3 owners to upgrade. Also note that the figures Counterpoint talk about are unit, ex-factory shipments where the average market value of 1/3 of the units is less than US$100 because of the multitude of cheap Chinese made models that flood various markets.
Apple’s average watch price must be well over $250 and hence its market share in dollar terms is MUCH higher than 21%, probably around 50%.
Garmin’s market share of the overall smartwatch market by units shipped is somewhere around 3% and that’s only sustainable as a long-term business by it being a cleverly differentiated premium business. It is trying to do that but as I’ve said many times, the Apple Watch is only a couple of buttons and a decent battery away from decimating a huge chunk of Garmin’s core watch business.
On that happy note, we can also join Garmin’s celebrations today as they switch their listing from the NASDAQ to the NYSE. They’ve arrived at last with the big boys and girls of Wall Street. Well done.