苹果是美国芯片巨头，Apple Watch选用自研的S7芯片，保证Apple Watch的Retina屏幕以60帧的流畅速度进行刷新。高通在工艺上更精细化一些，其手表搭载的骁龙W5 Gen1和骁龙W5+Gen1芯片升级到最先进的4nm制程工艺，比苹果S7芯片减少3 nm。AmbiqMicro是美国一家物联网芯片设计公司，其Apollo4 Plus和Apollo4 Blue Plus搭载了低功耗蓝牙5.1射频功能，拥有强劲的计算能力以及存储能力，使得待机功耗最高可降低38倍。三星Galaxy Watch 4的主控芯片是自研的Exynos W920 5nm双核处理器芯片华为麒麟A1芯片实现了4.3mm x 4.4mm的”小巧尺寸”，可植入到任何小型可穿戴设备。
据潮电智库统计，华为和苹果在2022年全球智能手表品牌占主导地位，合计份额近31%，其中华为占有10%的市场份额。究其原因，华为HLOS智能手表出货量在2022年翻了一番，推动华为实现9%的同比增长。此外，OPPO在 2022 年全球智能手表的市场份额增加到3%，实现了 105% 的同比增长，这得益于其新发布的 Watch 3 系列受到全球市场的青睐。
2023 Top 10 of Global Smartwatch Bluetooth master Chip companies
The development of global smart watches has stimulated the competitiveness of domestic and foreign master chip manufacturers.
According to Electrend, the global shipment volume of smart watches in 2022 was 228 million, an increase of 12% year-on-year.
Electrend believes that in the fierce competition that has lasted for a year, the comprehensive competitiveness of global smartwatch master chip manufacturers in 2023 has been announced to the public. The top ten companies in terms of shipment volume are Apple, Realtek, GOODIX, UNISOC, Nordic, Samsung, Ambiq, Huawei Qilin, Onmicro, and Qualcomm.
The following will provide an overview of the four key factors of comprehensive competitiveness, including shipment volume, market share, product structure, and main customer groups.
1、Shipping volume&market share
When the supply chain operates normally, the larger the shipment volume of smartwatch master chips, the more their market share also increases, which reflects the company’s layout strength in inventory, shipment volume, and sales volume.
It is worth noting that the top ten smart watch master chip manufacturers have a relatively clear competitive landscape in the global market in 2023.
From the list, there is a polarization between the high-end market and the mid to low end market, with each having its own king, namely Apple and Ruiyu, each holding 16% of the market share.
The ‘king’ is Apple, and the main control chip is still self-developed and used, ranking first in terms of shipment volume, with a market share of 16%. Surprisingly, Realtek ranks second in terms of shipment volume, with a market share of 16% similar to Apple’s. From this, it can be seen that there has been a significant leap in the coordination relationship between Ruiyu in terms of inventory, shipment volume, and sales volume. However, overall, Apple’s profits from self-developed chips are clearly higher than Realtek.
In fact, there are traces of Apple and Realtek ascending to the throne of kings. According to Electrend, in the March 2022 ranking, Apple Watch’s main control chip shipment volume was 2.45 million, while Realtek had 2.7 million; In July of the same year, Apple produced 2.75 million, while Ruiyu produced 2.5 million.
At present, the total market share of Apple and Realtek in 2022 is 32%. Compared to other individual chip manufacturers, their market share is not high, only in single digits. According to Electrend, the market share of GOODIX, UNISOC, Nordic, Samsung, Ambiq, Huawei Kirin, Onmicro, and Qualcomm in 2022 were 9%, 7%, 7%, 7%, 6%, 5%, 4%, and 4%, respectively.
Overall, Apple has “crushed” numerous manufacturers of smart watch control chips in terms of overall competitiveness, scoring 9.5 points. However, other manufacturers have significant room for improvement in their overall strength, and there is an urgent need to adjust their strategic thinking for future development, identify target markets, overcome technical difficulties, and enhance competitiveness.
The product structure is divided into high-end and low-end markets, with the main difference being in brand, technology, and price.
From the list, there are five “high-end players” in the global smart watch control chip market in 2023, namely Apple, Samsung, Ambiq, Huawei Kirin, Qualcomm. UNISOC and Nordic are clearly outstanding and well-known in the mid to high end market, while Ruiyu and Huiding are popular in the mid to low end market, while companies with white cards as their main customer group are exclusive to Angruiwei.
These five “high-end players” have a considerable background, not only having strong brand power, but also having strong technical strength in their main control chips.
Apple is an American chip giant, and the Apple Watch uses its self-developed S7 chip to ensure that the Retina screen of the Apple Watch refreshes smoothly at 60 frames. Qualcomm is more refined in terms of technology, and its watches are equipped with Snapdragon W5 Gen1 and Snapdragon W5+Gen1 chips that have been upgraded to the most advanced 4nm process technology, which is 3 nm less than Apple S7 chips. Ambiq is a chip design company for the Internet of Things in the United States. Its Apollo 4 Plus and Apollo 4 Blue Plus are equipped with low-power Bluetooth 5.1 RF function, which has strong computing power and storage capacity, allowing standby power consumption to be reduced up to 38 times. The main control chip of the Samsung Galaxy Watch 4 is the self-developed Exynos W920 5nm dual core processor chip, the Huawei Kirin A1 chip, which achieves a “compact size” of 4.3mm x 4.4mm and can be implanted into any small wearable device.
It is found that Apple, Samsung, and Huawei Kirin are all on the path of self-developed and self used, which may be their development direction in the main control chip of smart watches.
However, Realtek’s brand power and technical strength can be said to be insufficient compared to others. Ruiyu launched the 8762D series at the end of 2020, which can drive AMOLED screens with resolutions up to 480 * 480. Its 8762 series products currently occupy an important position in the Bluetooth sports watch market.
The competition between Huiding and Realtek on the same platform is quite fierce. According to the shipment volume calculated by Electrend, Realtek produced 2.7 million main control chips in March, while Huiding was relatively behind with only 480000. However, in July, Huiding closely followed Ruiyu’s footsteps, with chip shipments exceeding 2 million. However, Realtek won with a shipment volume of 2.5 million.
Overall, the global smart watch master chip market will develop from the mid to low end to the high-end. The unique Onrywei, with white brand as the main customer group, ranks ninth in terms of master chip shipment volume and only has a market share of 4%. Furthermore, the market space for white brand main control chips may be squeezed by brands and even replaced by mid to high-end main control chips. Therefore, technological transformation and product innovation are the two major development priorities for future smart watch control chips.
3、Main customer groups
The main customer base is an important indicator of the comprehensive competitiveness of global smartwatch control chips. In the mid to high-end market, high-quality customer base will bring potential and long-term brand linkage effects.
It is not difficult to find that the chip gameplay of “high-end players” is either self-developed and self used, or serves large brand customers. At present, Qualcomm’s main control chip is mainly used in domestic well-known brands such as Huawei and OPPO for smart watches, while Ambiq mainly serves major brands such as Xiaomi, OPPO, and Garmin.
According to Electrend, Huawei and Apple dominate the global smartwatch brands in 2022, with a total share of nearly 31%, with Huawei holding 10% of the market share. The reason for this is that Huawei’s HLOS smartwatch shipments doubled in 2022, driving Huawei to achieve a 9% year-on-year growth. In addition, OPPO’s global market share for smartwatches increased to 3% in 2022, achieving a year-on-year growth of 105%, thanks to its newly released Watch 3 series being favored by the global market.
Although Qualcomm and Ambiq have small shipments, downstream customers Huawei and OPPO have performed well in the global smartwatch market, becoming strong endorsements for them to enter the top ten.
In fact, the performance of UNISOC and Nordic in the high-end market of main control chips is relatively balanced, with both chip shipments and market share ranking in the top five. UNISOC’s customer base mainly includes Okii, Huawei, and 360, while Nordic’s main customer base is Aidu Technology. In contrast, the former has a larger customer base than the latter, and its brand power in the customer base also has an advantage.
The large customer base in the mid to low-end market of smart watch control chips will bring a long tail effect. According to the Electrend, the total shipment of smart watches in India, including white brands, exceeded 60 million in 2022, with a year-on-year increase of 165% in the brand end and surpassing North America with a market share of 22% to become the world’s largest smart watch market. The reason why Realtek and GOODIX rank in the top three in terms of shipment volume is because they have positioned their target market in the Indian region, which has led to rapid growth in their shipment volume.Realtek surpassed GOODIX in the shipment volume and market share of smart watch chips, mainly due to the differences in its large customer base and the inherent brand power of its cooperative customers. The cooperative client of GOODIX is Tata, which is the largest group in India and involves a wide range of businesses. However, the investment in smart watch control chips is relatively small. Realtek collaborates with two major Indian smartwatch brands, Noise and boAt, and currently holds over 70% of the brand’s market share. This shows that Ruiyu’s customer base is larger and more precise than Huiding’s.
In summary, the top ten global smartwatch master chip manufacturers have strong combat capabilities, each exhibiting their unique abilities and making them on the list.
Electrend predicts that the global shipment volume of smart watches is expected to increase in 2023 and 2024, with an estimated year-on-year growth rate of 14% in 2023 and the highest growth point by 2024. The estimated shipment volume is as high as 340 million, with a year-on-year growth rate of 35%. The shipment volume of main control chips will increase with the expansion of the smart watch market in the next two years.
Therefore, major control chip manufacturers need to carefully layout their research and development investment, target markets, and customer groups in order to better capture the growth points of the smart watch market.