Customers can take an ECG reading with Apple Watch Series 4 at any time. Image Credit: Apple

Dubai: Smartwatches are becoming an increasingly part of life in the modern world, with the end of last year recording an “impressive” increase in global shipments.

The total number of wearable devices snapped up by shoppers around the world reached a total of 18.2 million units by December 2018, registering a 56 per cent increase compared to the previous year, according to the latest research from Strategy Analytics.

And among the makers of wearable tech, American technology giant Apple has beaten its competitors, capturing more than half (51 per cent) of the items distributed worldwide.

According to the latest data, Apple’s smartwatch remains the most popular among users worldwide, although the US company’s share of the market has dropped.

Following behind is South Korea’s Samsung, which jumped to the second spot, overtaking fitness tracker brand Fitbit and popular GPS label Garmin.

The four brands are now the leading players in the smartwatch sector, accounting for eight in ten of all smartwatches distributed around the world.

Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics, the iPhone maker shipped 9.2 million wearable smart devices in the fourth quarter of 2018, an increase of 18 per cent from 7.8 million units shipped in the same period in 2017.

The brand’s global smartwatch market share, however, slipped from 67 per cent a year ago. “ Apple Watch is losing market share to Samsung and Fitbit, whose rival smartwatch portfolios and retail presence have improved significantly in the past year,” said Mawston.

Samsung managed to ship 2.4 million smartwatches worldwide in the fourth quarter of 2019, registering a market share of 13 per cent, up from the previous year’s five per cent.

“Samsung is once again the world’s second-largest smartwatch brand. Its new Galaxy Watch proved popular in North America and Asia,” said Steven Waltzer, industry analyst at Strategy Analytics.

“Samsung has a good pipeline of new models for 2019, such as the innovative Galaxy Watch Active with blood-pressure tracking, and Samsung should perform well this year.”

Fitbit’s share also strengthened, tripling from four per cent to 12 per cent.

“Fitbit is very popular in the United States market. Fitbit Versa smartwatches are gaining mass-appeal and its new Fitbit Care connected health platform is a useful differentiator for the brand,” said Mawston.

Garmin came in the fourth place, capturing six per cent of the market in the fourth quarter last year, holding steady from six per cent a year ago.

“Rising competition from Fitbit, Samsung and others in the sports and music categories is making it harder for Garmin to make headway in smartwatches,” added Mawston.