In brief: The smartwatch market grew 24 percent in 2021 thanks in large part to demand for sub-$100 wearables according to Counterpoint Research's recently published Global Smartwatch Model Tracker. Over 40 million units shipped in the fourth quarter alone, marking the highest number of shipments recorded in a single quarter to date.

The research firm noted that shipments barely budged in 2020 due to Covid-19 but rebounded significantly last year.

Apple's global market share fell three points year over year, but the company still finished in first with 30.1 percent of the market. Had Apple refreshed its Watch SE last year, it likely could have stretched its lead even further.

Samsung overtook Huawei for second place and managed to finish with a 10.2 percent market share. The company's move to Wear OS has proven wise thus far. Huawei made the podium in third place with a 7.7 percent share.

Counterpoint found that while the North American and Chinese markets saw their shares slip slightly, shipments in India and the rest of the world more than made up for it. India, for example, accounted for just three percent of smartwatch shipments by region in 2020. Last year, that figure climbed to nearly 10 percent.

"The global smartwatch market's good growth in 2021 is meaningful in itself, but it is more meaningful in that it makes us look forward to future growth," said Sujeong Lim, associate director at Counterpoint.

"With their ability to monitor important health parameters like blood pressure, ECG and SPO2, these devices are becoming popular. Further, the attractiveness of smartwatches as independent wearable devices will increase if more of them start supporting cellular connectivity," Lim added.

Image credit Daniel Romero