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Smartwatch Interest On The Wane As Shipments Halve

Antony Savvas is a freelance journalist and the editor of TechWeek's sister publication ChannelBiz

IDC figures suggest smartwatch shipments fell by 51.6 percent over the past three months but Apple Watch Series 2 and Android Wear 2.0 offer hope

Smartwatch volumes reached just 2.7 million units shipped in the third quarter, a decrease of 51.6 percent from the 5.6 million units shipped during the same period last year, according to figures from IDC.

IDC pointed out however that the third quarter of 2015 was the first time the Apple Watch had widespread retail availability after a limited online launch. Meanwhile, the second generation Apple Watch was only available in the last two weeks of the corresponding quarter in 2016.

However the figures suggest a significant drop in interest for devices that many, especially Apple and Samsung, had hoped would offset any potential decline in the smartphone market.

Smartwatch slump

Apple Watch 1“The sharp decline in smartwatch shipment volumes reflects the way platforms and vendors are realigning,” said Ramon Llamas, an IDC analyst. “Apple revealed a new look and feel to watchOS that did not arrive until the launch of the second generation watch at the end of September.”

“Google’s decision to hold back Android Wear 2.0 has repercussions for its OEM partners as to whether to launch devices before or after the holidays. Samsung’s Gear S3, announced at IFA in September, has yet to be released. Collectively, this left vendors relying on older, ageing devices to satisfy customers.”

IDC analyst Jitesh Ubrani added: “It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone. Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity.

“However, moving forward, differentiating the experience of a smartwatch from the smartphone will be key and we’re starting to see early signs of this as cellular integration is rising, and as the commercial audience begins to pilot these devices.”

The top five smartwatch providers by shipments in order are Apple, Garmin, Samsung, Lenovo (Motorola) and Pebble.

Originally published on ChannelBiz