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Apple Watch accounts for half of Q4's record smartwatch shipments

But it lost ground to Samsung and Fitbit, according to Strategy Analytics.

39-apple-watch-series-4-larger-44mm

The Apple Watch was still smartwatch king in the fourth quarter of 2018, but it lost market share to Samsung and Fitbit.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Smartwatches were more popular than ever with shoppers at the end of last year, notching a record in global shipments, according to new research.

Global smartwatch shipments hit a record 18 million units in the fourth quarter of 2018, a 56 percent increase year-over-year, researcher Strategy Analytics reported Wednesday. For the full year, global shipments reached 45 million units -- also a record.

"Smartwatch growth is soaring, as consumers seek to accessorize their smartphones and bring digital connectivity to their wrists," Steven Waltzer, industry analyst at Strategy Analytics, said in a statement.

Apple held on to the smartwatch crown, despite its market share slipping to 51 percent from the 67 percent in held a year ago, researcher Strategy Analytics reported Wednesday. Apple shipped 9.2 million smartwatches during the fourth quarter, an increase of 18 percent compared with the same quarter in 2017.

Despite increased shipments, Apple lost ground to the competition, including Samsung, which leap-frogged FitBit and Garmin to regain the No. 2 spot. Samsung's marketshare in the quarter was 13 percent, up from 5 percent a year ago, on 2.4 million units shipped.

Close behind Samsung in third was Fitbit, which more than tripled its market share in the past year to grab 13 percent of the market. Garmin held on the the fourth spot, with a relatively unchanged market share of 6 percent.

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Apple Watch Series 4 GPS (40mm silver aluminum case, white sport band)
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