Smartwatch market plummets in the third quarter

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Sellers forced to push ageing watches as suppliers dilly dally on the way forward says analyst IDC

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 in 3Q15, according to analyst IDC.

IDC pointed out however that 3Q15 was the first time Apple’s 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 3Q16.

Wearables Smartwatch“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.”

He said: “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 (number one), Garmin, Samsung, Lenovo (Motorola) and Pebble.

@AntonySavvas