The Apple Watch still dominates the U.S. smartwatch market

U.S. smartwatch sales experienced strong growth in the 12 months ending November 2018 compared to the same timeframe a year prior,  according to The NPD Group's new Smartwatch Total Market Report. And the Apple Watch remains the clear market leader. 

Dollar sales of smartwatches in the U.S. were up 51%, totaling nearly $5 billion in sales, while unit sales saw a 61% increase, notes NPD. The new Smartwatch Total Market Report reveals that the top three brands (Apple, Samsung, and Fitbit) made up 88% of smartwatch unit sales during the timeframe. However, traditional watch manufacturers, like Fossil, and fitness-focused brands, like Garmin, are working to grow their share of the market, as they continue to expand into the smartwatch category.

Apple Watch Series 4 ECG.jpg

“Over the last 18 months smartwatch sales gained strong momentum, proving the naysayers, who didn’t think the category could achieve mainstream acceptance, had potentially judged too soon,” says Weston Henderek, director, industry analyst for NPD Connected Intelligence. “The ability to be truly connected via built-in LTE without the need to have a smartphone nearby proved to be a tipping point for consumers, as they now recognize the value in being able to complete a wide range of tasks on the device including receiving notifications, messaging, accessing smart home controls, and more.”

Sixteen percent of U.S. adults now own a smartwatch, which is up from 12% in December of 2017, based on NPD’s Consumers and Wearables Report. The younger 18-34 age demographic is currently carrying the overall growth in the smartwatch market with 23 percent penetration. However, as newer health focused devices such as the Apple Watch Series 4 continue to take hold in the next year, expect to see a big boost in penetration among older segments, notes the research group.

Beyond health and fitness tracking, evolving use cases will help bolster the segment. For example, 15% of smartwatch owners now claim to use their devices to control home automation devices, notes NPD.

Apple doesn't report Apple Watch unit sales. However in its recent earnings call for the first quarter of the 2019 fiscal year, CEO Tim Cook said the company's wearables revenue was being driven by the popularity of the Apple Watch and AirPods.