After a sluggish 2020 brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Counterpoint Research recorded a record-breaking 2021 for the global smartwatch market.
According to the company's latest report, 2021 produced 24% year-over-year growth across all brands, with the strongest jumps being seen in budget-friendly sub-$100 offerings.
This trend of seeking out low-cost smartwatches drove a 14% bump in North American shipments and a 10% rise in Chinese purchases. However, its greatest impact could be seen in India where it pushed sales up 274%, year over year, to account for 10% of the global market, up from just 3% in 2020.
On a brand-by-brand basis, Apple remained the undisputed leader, despite slipping 3% to hold 30.1% of the market. Meanwhile, Samsung's shipments grew more than 200% to pass Huawei and push it into a distant second place with 10.2% of shipments during the year. Huawei fell to third with 7.7% of the market.
In fourth place was Imoo, a Chinese company specializing in smartwatches for kids, with 5.2% of the market, followed by Amazfit in fifth with 5.1% and Garmin in sixth with 4.6%. Amazfit and Garmin were the only two companies besides Samsung to see positive movement in their respective market shares between 2020 and 2021, Counterpoint noted.
The remainder of the market was accounted for by Google-owned FitBit (3.8%), Xiaomi (3.6%), and Noise (2.6%). Noise, a smartwatch maker based in India, made its first appearance on the list thanks to the aforementioned surge in interest in that company's market.
The remaining 27.1% was accounted for by smaller brands and manufacturers, including Fossil, which fell out of the top nine.
While Counterpoint did not offer any predictions for future smartwatch shipment volumes, the company did note that the fourth quarter of 2021 saw the single most shipments of any quarter in the product category's history, with 40 million units having been moved during the holiday season. Even with the traditional shopping season bump taken into account, this would suggest the post-pandemic trajectory for smartwatches is trending steeply upward.