The global sales of smartwatches reached 21.1 million units in 2016, with Apple retaining its position as the top global supplier of the gadget, according to latest market estimates.
The American tech giant cornered shipped 11.6 million smartwatches to the end users worldwide last year to claim a market share of 11.4 percent.
South Korean giant Samsung Electronics shipped around 2.4 million smartwatches to 11.4 percent share.
“Smartwatch growth is recovering slightly due to new product launches from giant Apple and stronger seasonal demand in major developed markets like the US and UK,” Neil Mawston, the executive director at research firm Strategy Analytics, told media on Thursday.
The fourth quarter saw a dramatic rise the smartwatch industry after two successive quarters witnessed a decline in sales.
The global smartwatch sales reached 8.2 million units in Q4 of 2016, taking the total annual shipments of the gadget to 21.1 million, up from 20.8 million in the previous year.
“The fourth quarter marked a return to growth for the smartwatch industry after two consecutive quarters of declining volumes,” said Mawston.
Apple shipped a record 5.2 million smartwatches worldwide in the quarter ended on December 31 to account for a 63 percent market share, an increase of 2 percent over the same period in 2015.
Apple shipped a record 5.2 million smartwatches worldwide in Q4 to Account for a 63 Percent Market Share
The company’s sales during the quarter were driven by Apple Watch Series 2 model, a next-generation that is powered by a dual-core processor, runs new watchOS 3 software and has built-in Global Positioning System support.
“Demand for Apple’s new Watch Series 2 as a holiday-season gift in Western markets was surprisingly strong and it enabled Apple to clear a large backlog of inventory during the quarter,” Cliff Raskind, a director at Strategy Analytics, said.
Mawston said major Chinese vendors have failed to claim their due share in the smartwatch market despite aggressively expanding their smartphone sales around the world.
“Chinese brands collectively accounted for less than 1 in 10 of all smartwatches shipped worldwide in the fourth quarter last year,” he said.
Mawston predicted that Apple is poised to push the smartwatch industry forward in 2017 with the launch of Apple Watch Series 3.
“We expect the launch of an Apple Watch Series 3 this year because it is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, and Apple really needs to have its main products updated to maximize what will surely be a major selling opportunity,” he said.