In a nutshell: Global smartwatch shipments dipped slightly in the fourth quarter due to a fresh wave of Covid-19 outbreaks, resulting in a nearly flat full year. Still, there were a couple of bright spots, including Apple's mid-range Apple Watch SE which could prompt others to put a bigger emphasis on non-flagship smartwatches moving forward.

According to Counterpoint Research's latest Global Smartphone Shipments Tracker, Apple further solidified its position as the top smartwatch manufacturer during the holiday quarter. Compared to the same period a year earlier, Apple managed to grow its market share by six percent. Samsung increased its share by one percent while other major players like Huawei and Fitbit either lost market share or experienced no growth compared to Q4 2019.

Counterpoint senior analyst Sujeong Lim had high praise for the Apple Watch SE, the mid-range alternative to the Apple Watch Series 6 that was introduced in September. Lim believes the SE will spur others including Samsung to release similar variants that move adoption closer to the mass market.

The Apple Watch SE starts at $279, a bit less than the $399 that the Apple Watch Series 6 commands, but you will also sacrifice some key features like an always-on display, ECG functionality and sheer processing power.

Lim further notes that over the next three to four years, budget players like Oppo could gain significant market share and help bring down prices through increased competition.

Masthead courtesy oasisamuel