You would think that smartwatch shipments fell sharply this year due to many people being confined to their homes during lockdown orders, but the market is alive and well with a 12% growth compared to last year's first quarter, according to Canalys. However, the news isn't great for every player: Apple's and Fitbit's share annual growth turned negative while Huawei, Samsung, and Garmin are the winners of Q1 2020.

The 12% year-over-year (YOY) change is considerably smaller than Q1 2019's annual growth of 48%, but it's still higher than expected. Huawei can be considered the winner with a 113% improvement, but the company bundled smartwatches with P40 purchases, so the question is how much revenue the manufacturer could really gain. Fitbit sees a rather bad development with a loss of 21% YOY, falling back to the fifth spot behind Garmin and Samsung. A lack of innovation when it comes to the Versa 2 might be the reason.

Vendor Q1 2020 shipments (million) Q1 2020 market share Q1 2019 shipments (million) Q1 2019 market share Annual
growth
Apple 5.2 36.3% 6.0 46.7% -13%
Huawei 2.1 14.9% 1.0 7.9% +113%
Samsung 1.8 12.4% 1.2 9.6% +46%
Garmin 1.1 7.3% 0.8 5.9% +39%
Fitbit 0.9 6.2% 1.1 8.9% -21%
Others 3.3 22.8% 2.6 20.8% +24%
Total 14.3 100.0% 12.7 100.0% +12%
Note: percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding
Source: Canalys Wearable Band Analysis (sell-in shipments), May 2020

Canalys speculates that the Apple Watch's share isn't necessarily only eaten up by the competition, but by the Cupertino company itself — "due to Apple customers switching their attention to AirPods as a 'must-have' accessory." In fact, Apple Watch shipments actually grew in other parts of the world, but it's offset by existing market penetration in the US and Europe.

The growth of Asian manufacturers such as Huawei, Xiaomi, and Oppo (part of "others" in the table above) is apparently due to exploding demand in China, where shipments are up 66% YOY. Canalys predicts that the country might be the "key smartwatch growth driver in 2020 as a result of its strongly recovered economy." With the recent announcement of the Xiaomi Mi Band 5, this trend might indeed continue.