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Smartwatches hit a bump, shipments fall for the first time ever

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When smartwatches first arrived on the scene (and that was pretty recent), there was a huge, huge excitement surrounding them. I mean who would have believed that we would soon be wearing devices with all the capabilities of a smartphone.

The excitement continued for some time, driven by new innovations in the field. However, it seems like things are finally quieting down. IDC has reported a decline in shipments this quarter as compared to the previous year.

Yup. According to the report, Vendors managed to ship a total of 3.5 million smartwatches worldwide last quarter. This marks a significant decline of 32 percent from the 5.1 million units shipped in Q2 2015.  The report also pinpoints Apple as the clear culprit behind this rapid march south.  It should be noted that the figures above are with regards to the smartphone segment only and do not include other wearables — such as Fitbit.

Apple shipped 3.6 million units in Q2, 2015, occupying a 72 percent market share. By way of comparison, the company shipped merely 1.6 million devices this quarter, still managing to account for 47 percent of the total market. These 2 million or thereabouts missing WatchOS devices have contributed to the overall decline in shipments as well.

Interestingly, Apple was the only manufacturer in the top 5 that shipped less devices this year as compared to 2015. Samsung, occupied a 7 percent market share in the second quarter of last year, shipping around 400,000 watches. The company gained 9 percentage points, thanks to shipping 200,000 more units in Q2, 2016.

Riding on the success of the Motorola brand smartwatches, Lenovo also gained 6 percentage points. The company jumped from 3 percent to 9 percent of the market share, shipping 100,000 more units in the process.  The Moto 360 and its consorts are doing pretty well, becoming leaders of the round watch segment.

That leaves just LG and Garmin in the top 5. Both the companies have doubled their market shares at Apple’s cost. While Garmin (from 2 percent to 4 percent) remained constant at 100,000 shipped watches, LG sold 100,000 more units as compared to last year. The company managed to double its market share from 4 percent to 8 percent but couldn’t stop its fall to the 4th spot in the top 5 list.

Meanwhile, Apple, which is still significantly ahead of others despite its bad showing, is expected to improve sales with the release of WatchOS 2.0. However, the declining figures have made it clear that smartwatch as a segment is far from reaching its maturity. A lot of factors, including the fact that many people still regard them as expensive showpieces, have contributed to this.

Also, they are rather expensive. At least to the point that buying them is something of a luxury. And honestly speaking, smartwatches aren’t really all that vital or full of features either. You can just as easily manage with your smartphone, most of the time. Another factor that in my humble opinion may have cut down sales may be looks. Granted, manufacturers have made significant progress in the direction, however there is a rare smartwatch that can go heads on with a classic old time piece from say Rado — taking into account just the looks of the watch.

And while watches are considered an essential part of the complete wardrobe by many, there is usually room for just one, thus forcing people to go for the classic accessory — which is sometimes even more expensive — rather than the smartwatch.


A bibliophile and a business enthusiast.

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