Just as the iPhone wasn’t the first smartphone and the iPad wasn’t the first tablet, the Apple Watch wasn’t the first smartwatch.
Apple tends to test the waters before entering a new product category. History has shown the tech giant eventually dominates the categories it enters in total number of shipments. However, International Data Corporation recently reported Apple shipped 1.1 million smartwatch units this past quarter, a whopping 71.6 percent decline from last year.
In our Apple Watch Series 2 review, we remarked that smartwatches have yet to make their way onto most people’s wrists. While the wide majority of U.S. adults have smartphones tucked in their pockets, just 16 percent of them own a smartwatch or fitness tracker. So Apple isn’t the only company struggling with smartwatch sales. Overall smartwatch shipments totaled 2.7 million units, a 56 percent decline from the same time last year, according to IDC. Both Lenovo and Pebble saw sharp drops in shipments, as did Samsung.
It’s worth noting that Apple’s new Apple Watch Series 2 launched right toward the end of Q3. Samsung will ship its newest Gear S3 smartwatch in November and Pebble has only recently begun to ship one of its three new smartwatch models. The full impact of this new hardware wasn’t recorded in the quarter, thanks to poor timing.
A lot of pressure is on Apple to flip IDC’s script though to give the smartwatch sector a jump in shipments in Q4 since the company is selling the largest quantity of smartwatches.
Apple’s newest watch has built-in GPS, a waterproof design and a much faster processor than the first-generation Apple Watch. With the holidays right around the corner, these upgrades and the lower price of the Series 1 Watch combined may convince people to tap into Apple’s wearable ecosystem.
After Google releases its Android Wear 2.0 software update, new smartwatch hardware packed with updated cellular technology, GPS chips and faster processors is almost sure to follow. It’s hard to be certain if new hardware will lead to an increase in smartwatch sales, but most would think a rebound in smartwatch shipments is imminent.
One thing that is for certain – Apple will likely remain top dog for overall smartwatch sales. The Apple Watch accounts for 41 percent of smartwatch shipments according to IDC. And during the unveiling of the Series 2 Apple Watch, CEO Tim Cook boasted that the Apple Watch is now second only to Rolex in sales revenue for watch makers.