About to buy a smartwatch? Odds are you aren't, unless it's by Samsung

Andrea Rovai
Oct 25, 2016

Certainly this is not the honeymoon for the smartwatch market.

According to the latest report by IDC, volumes are nosediving. This is not peanuts: we are talking about a YoY decline in the third quarter of 2016 of 51.6%. The number of units shipped is crumbling, from 5.6 to 2.7 million. What's the reason for this? IDC objects that Apple, being the major player of the market - it accounts for 1.1 million units shipped in 3Q16, 41.3% of market share - hasn't had the chance to shine yet, because its latest wearable device, Apple Watch Series 2, has been made available only in mid-September. And two weeks in three months are not the tie-breaker.

Also, we would be hasty and shallow if we didn't take into account the infrequently bad situation for vendors that occurred this quarter. With Android Wear 2.0 being delayed to 2017, Google's OEM partners were in the ugly position of deciding whether to launch before or after the holidays. The situation for Lenovo was even worse (-73% of YoY growth), with both first and second generation smartwatches available on sale, while the newly released Moto 360 Sport basically wasn't, if not a little bit here and there.

But more than any other wearable on the market, Apple Watch is a little under the weather at the moment, with a YoY Growth of -71.6%. There's no hiding that Apple Watch, recently rebranded as "Apple Watch Series 1", didn't live up to the customer's expectations. Cupertino actually registered lots of complaints last year for the messed up UI, the weak processor, the slow app launches - not to mention the lack of GPS. Of course Apple, as well as the other players, is innovating, but it has eventually turned out that, at least at present, smartwatches are not for everyone. These are not our words: these are the words of Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

"Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount," continues Jitesh "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."

Who is talking about?

I won't start this speculation, but not everyone is falling in the market: infact, Samsung is growing.

And we are talking about a 9.0% growth of Samsung versus a -71.6 growth of Apple. Samsung is increasingly gaining traction. Quoting IDC, "these still remain one of the few smartwatches on the market that feature full-time cellular connectivity".

I bet he's talking about Samsung.

Top Five Smartwatch Vendors, Shipments, Market Share and Year-Over-Year Growth, 3Q 2016 (Units in Millions)

3Q16 Unit

3Q16 Market

3Q15 Unit

3Q15 Market


1. Apple 1.1 41.3 % 3.9 70.2 % -71.6 %
2. Garmin 0.6 20.5 % 0.1 2.3 % 324.2 %
3. Samsung 0.4 14.4 % 0.4 6.4 % 9.0 %
4. Lenovo 0.1 3.4 % 0.3 6.2 % -73.3 %
5. Pebble 0.1 3.2 % 0.2 3.3 % -54.1 %
Others 0.5 17.2 % 0.6 11.5 % -27.2 %
Total 2.7 100.0 % 5.6 100.0 % -51.6 %



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