Shashwat Pradhan Shashwat Pradhan

The Apple Watch faces new competition from Fitbit & Samsung

We are less a week away from the launch of the new Apple Watch 3, on September 12th. Fitbit recently announced the Ionic smartwatch and Samsung moving into the fitness niche released the Gear Sport, Gear Fit 2 Pro, and Gear Icon X. With lots of new competition, on the other hand with a promising watchOS 4 update will the new Apple Watch be able to disrupt this market?

Both Fitbit and Samsung have targeted their smartwatches at the fitness niche. Whereas the last Apple Watch released with a Nike+ band and watchOS 4 is promising tracking for all types of workouts.

Fitbit Ionic

The first real smartwatch from Fitbit with the support of third-party apps. The Ionic has an aluminum body with GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi sensors. Reports say that the software for third-party apps is build on top of their acquisition of Pebble. Fitbit has also teamed up with Adidas for a special edition watch as well. (Seems very similar to Apple & Nike’s partnership) It is priced competitively to the Apple Watch, though the third-party app ecosystem is doubtful.

Samsung’s new Gear watches

Samsung recently launched 3 fitness focussed products – The Gear Fit 2 fitness band, Gear Sport Smartwatch and IconX wireless bluetooth earbuds. The Gear Sport smartwatch is similar to the last Samsung Gear 3 smartwatch, with a round touchscreen display which has a rotating bezel for user interaction. Both the smartwatch and the fitness band are waterproof unto 50 meters. Also, they have partnered with Spotify to allow users to stream music through they smartwatches. It is interesting to see the new IconX bluetooth earbuds which seem to compete with AirPods and can also interact with Samsung’s assistant Bixby. Along with these hardware devices we are also seeing the S Health platform mature. It is interesting to see Samsung’s wearable shipments growing to 1.4 million in Q1 2017.

Samsung now holds a 5.5% market share compared to Apple’s 14%. With sensors maturing and the cost of wearables coming down, the new health applications can really push wearable shipments ahead. With Samsung and Apple taking out a piece of Fitbit’s market share, Fitbit needs success with its smartwatch efforts. Overall, Samsung and Fitbit have seem to made evolutionary steps with their wearables, it will be interesting to see what the new Apple Watch has to offer. The new upcoming SIM compatibility & developer ecosystem may end up being the key factors where Apple dominates the wearable market.

Additional Reading: The State of Wearables Q2, 2017