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Apple shipped 9.2M Apple Watch units in Q4 2018 to capture half of market, report says

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Fresh statistics from research firm Strategy Analytics show Apple retained its position as the clear leader in the smartwatch sector, with Apple Watch capturing 51 percent of the market during the fourth quarter of 2018.

According to Strategy Analytics estimates released on Wednesday, Apple shipped 9.2 million Apple Watch units worldwide in the last calendar quarter of 2018, up 18 percent from 7.8 million units in the year-ago quarter. Whole year shipments totaled 22.5 million units, good enough for a 50 percent take of the market on an annual basis.

While Apple's cut of the global smartwatch market slipped from 67 percent to 51 percent year-over-year, the company's performance puts it far ahead of its closest competitor, Samsung.

"Apple Watch is losing marketshare to Samsung and Fitbit, whose rival smartwatch portfolios and retail presence have improved significantly in the past year," said Neil Mawston, executive director at Strategy Analytics.

Samsung grew its piece of the pie during quarter four, shipping 2.4 million units for a 13.2 percent share of the market. The company shipped some 600,000 units over the same period in 2017. Samsung ended 2018 with an 11.8 percent marketshare on 5.3 million units shipped.

Industry stalwart Fitbit fell to third place in the fourth quarter of 2018, trailing Samsung's quarterly performance by roughly 100,000 units. The firm managed to boost shipments from 500,000 units to 5.5 million units on the year, putting it in second place with a 12.2 percent marketshare.

Garmin trailed the pack with 1.1 million units shipped in the fourth quarter, up from 700,000 units in 2017. The company ended 2018 with 3.2 million units shipped for a 7.1 percent share of the market.

Overall, the global smartwatch market grew 52 percent on a record 18 million units shipped, Strategy Analytics estimates.

Today's report lines up with recent figures from NDP, which pegged Apple as the clear leader in the burgeoning wearables segment.

Apple last September launched its latest Apple Watch version in the Apple Watch Series 4. Compared to prior Apple Watch models, the Series 4 boasts a larger edge-to-edge OLED display, slimmer chassis and all-new health monitoring capabilities including fall detection and a built-in ECG.

While Apple does not break out Apple Watch sales figures, CEO Tim Cook shed some light on the wearable's performance during an investor conference call in January.

"[I]f you take AirPods and the Watch separately, and you sort of back these up and align it to the launch date of iPod, as well, where all of them have a comparable amount of time, you would find that each one independently is four to six times ahead of where iPod was at a comparable period of time," Cook said at the time.