Wearable tech, which was seeing sizzling sales growth a year ago, is cooling this year amid consumer hesitation over new devices, a survey showed Thursday. The research firm IDC said it expects global sales of wearables to grow some 29.4 percent to some 103 million units in 2016. That follows 171 percent growth in 2015, fuelled by the launch of the Apple Watch and a variety of fitness bands.
“It is increasingly becoming more obvious that consumers are not willing to deal with technical pain points that have to date been associated with many wearable devices,” said IDC
analyst Ryan Reith. So-called basic wearables – including fitness bands and other devices that do not run third party applications – will make up the lion’s share of the market with some 80.7 million units shipped this year, according to IDC.
IDC said smartwatch shipments are likely to grow just 3.9 percent, held back by a delayed release of the upgraded Apple Watch, which goes on sale Friday. It is also reported that many of the major Android Wear brands such as Huawei and Motorola will not be releasing new versions of their wearables this year. Microsoft seems to be abandoning the Microsoft Band as well.
The report follows tech titan Apple’s announcement of the Watch Series 2, which features built-in GPS, a faster dual-core processor and a display that’s two times brighter than before, and is water resistant to 50m.IDC predicted that Apple’s watchOS would stay atop the smartwatch platform list throughout the forecast, noting the Series 2 Watch addresses some of the shortcomings of its predecessor.
However, the lower price on the first edition of Apple Watch, which starts at $269, may end up driving more volume in the upcoming holiday season.Nevertheless, these will be enough to keep watchOS the overall market leader, and future iterations of the Watch with new body styles, materials and improved cellular connectivity will help the company retain its top spot later in the forecast period.
Google’s Android and Android Wear-powered devices are expected to see the fastest growth of any platform on the list, and by 2020, will challenge watchOS for the top position in the worldwide smartwatch market. Rounding out the top three smartwatch platforms is Tizen, which is expected to remain in third place throughout IDC’s forecast, and puts significant pressure on Samsung, Tizen’s sole supporter, to develop devices and platforms and cultivate the application selection.The report noted that this strategy has proven successful for Samsung, especially in launching its unique bezel-based interface and cellular-capable smartwatches.
So the market is growing, if slowly, but smartwatches certainly haven’t become the ubiquitous triumph of convenient technology that are our smartphones. In contrast to smartwatches, 80.7 million basic wearables are expected to ship in 2016. That’s a 37 percent increase over last year’s 58.8 million figure.
Smartwatches have never sounded convincing enough to many, they’ve never had the mass appeal of a smartphone. After all, why would you want to pay premium prices for a watch that tells the time and syncs notifications with your phone? Fitness bands do that as well and are a lot cheaper. For the watchfaces? or the not very usefull apps like note taking and grocery lists. How difficult is it to take your phone out of your pocket and do all those things on a larger screen right? Smartwatches are finding it hard to justify the price tags and that’s probably the only reason consumers are thinking twice before getting one.
Complaints about battery life, smartphone dependancy, and minimal use cases have been well versed across most publications and research findings.
Once technology develops to a point where lower price points can be targeted and 4G (or 5G) service on smartwatches becomes par for the course, then IDC expects the smartwatch market to take off. “To date, smartwatches have remained in the realm of brand loyalists and tech cognoscenti, but we expect that to change over the next few years,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “First, smartwatches will look and feel like traditional watches, appealing to those who put a premium and design and style. Second, once the smartwatches get cellular connectivity, they’ll disconnect from the smartphone, making them more useful. Third, smartwatch applications will build on this cellular connection, and connect with other devices within the home and at work. Finally, smartwatch prices will come down, making them more affordable to a broader market.”
Are you a smartwatch owner? How is your experience with it? Or have you like the majority never found a reason to have one yet? Is it the cost? Fill up the comments section below and lets talk about it.