The global shipments of smartwatches declined from 2015 to 2016, according to a recent report from research firm IDC.
The report states that shipments experienced “significant” declines in the third quarter. Total shipments were down 51.6 percent from the same time last year; 2.7 million units were shipped in Q3 2016 versus 5.6 million devices in Q3 2015.
Previously, IDC saw a spike in smartwatch sales after the Apple Watch and Huawei Watch were released in 2015, but 2016 saw an extreme lack of new hardware.
The new Apple Watch Series 2 launched right toward the end of Q3. Meanwhile, there have been very few new Android Wear smartwatches. Google delayed its major Android Wear 2.0 update, which is one of the main reasons why smartwatch makers have held off launching new products before the holidays.
Most recently, ASUS unveiled its ZenWatch 3 in November, and Samsung will release its Gear S3 watch the same month. Pebble has launched just one of the three models it intends to release.
Why aren't smartwatches taking off like smartphones did? Many people simply don't see the need for a smartwatch. Everything you can do with a smartwatch, you can pretty much already do on a smartphone. And unlike traditional watches, smartwatches need to be upgraded after processors begin to slow and their already short battery life starts to weaken even further.
Another research firm, Canalys, has recently argued that smartwatch shipments actually rose 60 percent over the same period to reach 6.1 million shipments. Despite the conflicting reports, both firms do agree that Apple is the top vendor, with the Apple Watch accounting for 46 percent of shipments according to Canalys and 41 percent according to IDC.
Time will tell if the new Apple Watch will impact these low shipment numbers. And as more hardware is released, software is updated and new features like cellular connectivity, GPS chips and waterproofing are implemented, the shipment numbers will probably increase.