Smartwatches not so tick-tock for Apple as market slows

21 Jul 20165 Shares

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Sales are down for Apple Watch, how will Apple wear it?

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The global smartwatch market has declined 32pc in the second quarter with Apple the only vendor in the top five to experience an annual decline in shipments.

Globally, smartwatch vendors shipped 3.5m units in Q2, down substantially from the 5.1m that shipped a year ago.

Apple, which held the top rank by shipping 1.6m Apple Watch devices, was the only vendor among the top five to see shipments decline.

‘Consumers have held off on smartwatch purchases since early 2016 in anticipation of a hardware refresh, and improvements in WatchOS are not expected until later this year’
– JITESH UBRANI, IDC

In fairness to Apple, the year-over-year comparison harks back to the initial launch quarter of the Apple Watch.

Is time standing still for Apple or does it have a new trick up its sleeve?

“Consumers have held off on smartwatch purchases since early 2016 in anticipation of a hardware refresh, and improvements in WatchOS are not expected until later this year, effectively stalling existing Apple Watch sales,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

“Apple still maintains a significant lead in the market and, unfortunately, a decline for Apple leads to a decline in the entire market. Every vendor faces similar challenges related to fashion and functionality, and though we expect improvements next year, growth in the remainder of 2016 will likely be muted.”
smartwatch_IDC_Q2

Samsung holds the number two position among the top five smartwatch vendors. In particular, the Gear S2 line-up is off to a great start as Samsung has successfully de-coupled the smartwatch from the smartphone. Focusing on the telco channel to drive future success in telco-driven markets is likely to remain the core strategy for Samsung moving forward.

The first-mover advantage is still paying off for Lenovo’s Motorola brand as it continues to be the smartwatch of choice for those interested in Android Wear-based circular displays.

Like Samsung, LG’s growing presence in the US telco channel has proven beneficial as the operators seek new revenue streams.

Garmin has almost doubled its share since last year due to the introduction of new smartwatches like the Fenix 3.

Apple Watch image via Shutterstock

Editor John Kennedy is an award-winning technology journalist.

editorial@siliconrepublic.com