Apple Watch retaining clear lead in smartwatch market despite advances by Samsung & Fitbit

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The Apple Watch maintained a solid grip on smartwatch shipments during the March quarter, according to new estimates, even as rivals from Samsung and Fitbit made headway.

Apple claimed 35.8 percent of the market, Counterpoint Research said on Thursday. That's up just slightly year-over-year from 35.5 percent in Q1 2018, despite Apple Watch shipments reportedly rising 49 percent in the same timeframe.

Samsung's marketshare jumped from 7.2 to 11.1 percent, something Counterpoint credited to success of the latest Galaxy Watch models. These include a traditional round watchface, improved battery life, and 4G connectivity, making them one of the better smartwatch options for people who don't have or want an iPhone.

Fitbit rose from 3.7 percent to 5.5. Once focused on dedicated fitness trackers, the company's Ionic and Versa watches have expanded functions including third-party apps and Fitbit Pay.

Another notable maker was Huawei, which leapt to 2.8 percent of the market by launching the Huawei Watch GT.

Companies losing out in the quarter included imoo, Amazfit, Fossil, and Garmin. While Garmin is focused primarily on hardcore fitness, sports, and outdoors enthusiasts, the rest are trying to cater to a general market.

In disclosing quarterly wearables numbers on Tuesday, Apple kept precise Watch sales a secret as usual. It did say that wearable sales rose 50 percent year-over-year, and that roughly three-quarters of Watches were sold to people new to the hardware. Overall "Wearables, Home, and Accessories" revenue rose from $3.94 billion to $5.1 billion, though that includes AirPods, Beats products, Apple TVs, and the HomePod, among other things.