A saleswoman answers queries from consumers on smartphones at a store in Haikou, capital of Hainan province, in July. (Photo: China News Service)
Competition in the smartwatch market is set to intensify amid the COVID-19 pandemic as leading companies from both China and abroad are vying to produce more affordable and functional wearables to attract consumers, said analysts and experts.
"Compared to the downturn seen in smartphone demand and many other segments in the first six months due to the devastation caused by COVID-19, smartwatches remain a popular consumer device segment," said Sujeong Lim, senior analyst at Counterpoint Research.
According to the consultancy, the global smartwatch market has seen 20 percent revenue growth in the first half with almost 42 million smartwatches being shipped during the period.
"Wearables continue to see greater demand with consumers becoming more health conscious amid the pandemic, as some regions most affected by COVID-19 saw a healthy growth in smartwatch shipments, which offset the decline in other markets," Lim said.
In the first six months, Apple Watch continued to dominate the global market, accounting for 51.4 percent of global smartwatch market revenue. Following were devices from Garmin as well as Huawei Technologies Co Ltd with 9.4 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.
"New age customers are becoming health conscious and prefer devices with advanced features. Self-monitoring features like monitoring of blood oxygen levels and real-time body temperatures in smartwatches will not only help consumers but also healthcare professionals to track and analyze coronavirus patients between pre-and post-infection," said Manish Chaurasiya, senior technology analyst at GlobalData.
Apple launched a less expensive Apple Watch earlier this month. The fresh Apple Watch SE features a new function, Family Setup, which allows young children and older customers to use the Apple Watch without an iPhone.
The kids' smartwatches segment has been a fast-growth sector recently, primarily owing to the preference among working parents to enable them to monitor their kids remotely, Chaurasiya added.
According to market consultancy Strategy Analytics, Apple Watch shipped 31 million units worldwide last year, outpacing the entire Swiss watch industry in 2019. Switzerland is a traditional watch powerhouse with some world-leading watchmakers like Swatch and Tissot. The country's brands are gradually losing the battle to Apple.
As competition in the world's smartwatch market intensifies, Chinese technology plays including Huawei, Huami and Vivo are also jumping onto the bandwagon for a piece of the action. Demand for Huawei's smartwatches increased in China and other Asian markets where shipment volumes grew by 90 percent in the first six months.
In August, Huawei launched its new smartwatch－Watch Fit. The device offers a health application to monitor fitness data. It also provides 96 training modes, including 11 sports modes for running, swimming and cycling among others.
With these competitors, Chaurasiya said competition is set to intensify in the Asia-Pacific region, as they are challenging the global vendors including Apple, Samsung and Fitbit.