Smartwatches are dead

Smartwatches aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people couldn’t wait to get their hands on one and others didn’t show an interest. Either way, many manufacturers ran with the idea and saw this sector as the new Eldorado. Recent figures show that the venture didn’t pay off as promised: the figures are (very) poor and it would be interesting to know why.

Several of my colleagues consider smartwatches to be a dying trend: they aren’t always good value for money and people’s interest seems to already be declining (there was never great interest shown beforehand anyway). This is only their opinion, but the concrete statistics do prove it.

The statistics show trends

Supplying and selling on the market

Generally (and very simply) speaking, the development and commercialization process is basic: manufacturers create their devices (for example Samsung created their Samsung Gear), send the devices to their suppliers (for example FNAC) who then sell the goods to the end clients. The number of devices sent from manufacturers to suppliers has decreased by 51.6% in one year: it was 5.6 million in quarter 3 of 2016, today it’s only 2.7 million.

These statistics are presented by the International Data Corporation (IDC for those who are familiar with it), an American website dedicated to market research. As of yesterday, you can find these results online on IDC’s site which, we’ll point out, has a reputation as being a reliable source. The article explains that the market leader, Apple, has fallen from its pedestal: in one year, Apple’s market presence has fallen from 70.2% to 41.3% (but it’s still far ahead) and the number of devices sent to suppliers has also decreased considerably (from 3.9 million in 2015 to 1.1 million). With the new smartwatch, these new sales could well increase but that’s just a theory for now.

Apple retails its smartwatches at an extortionate price, therefore, it’s normal to experience lower sales.

What do you think?

Areas of Activity

Smartwatches have many uses and this is one of its weaknesses as we will read below. To stay with the statistics, it’s important to note that the brand Garmin is the only brand to see a huge increase (+324%). The most obvious question is “why?” and the answer is simple: unlike other manufacturers, Garmin aims at a specific market because it has a theme of preference.

AndroidPIT samsung gear s3 frontier hero
Here’s the Gear S3 from Samsung. © AndroidPIT

Garmin is interested in outdoor activities which we associate (perhaps too much) with GPS and sports/fitness. Are these themes the reason why people are turning to Garmin? There are probably other reasons, namely the brands (good) reputation, but this factor highlights the trend of specialized watches rather than multi-use watches.

Why has the market changed?

One of IDC’s analysts explained that “it has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone”. The major problem with smartwatches is that they don’t provide anything more than what a smartphone can provide, technically speaking. Of course, you can wear it on your wrist and it can be practical in some situations but as far as I’m concerned (and I think that it’s the case for many people) I would rather lose 2 seconds by taking my smartphone out of my pocket than invest in a device that I wouldn’t use for anything else.

It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone

In other terms, smartphones and smartwatches must have different features and functions to distinguish themselves from one another because, if not, manufacturers are heading for a fall. What direction will the market go? As explained above, the juiciest sector seems to be the health and fitness market. These devices are better known as ‘Fitness Trackers’ rather than smartwatches. They allow us to follow our sporting activities and can even analyze our heart rates among other things.

What do you think of smartwatches? Are you interested in them? Or are they useless gadgets that cost too much for all that they are?

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