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Smartwatches are dead

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Smartwatches aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. Some people couldn’t wait to get their hands on one and others didn’t show the slightest interest. Either way, many manufacturers ran with the idea thinking this sector would be the new Eldorado. However, recent figures show that the venture didn’t quite 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.

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. © NextPit

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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Benoit Pepicq

Benoit Pepicq

Benoit is passionate about new technologies and everything related to computers. A big Android fan since 2011, he joined the AndroidPIT team to satisfy his passion and to share his knowledge on Android with readers.

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  • Angela Jones 6
    Angela Jones Nov 21, 2016 Link to comment

    For a start, they're too expensive. If you want one mainly for fitness, then ur better off getting a fitbit! I have looked at them, but that's it....

  • Bill Carter 5
    Bill Carter Nov 5, 2016 Link to comment

    I have the TAG Heuer Connected watch, which is pretty cool. But, it constantly buzzes on my wrist and is quite distracting. Also, I have a number of very nice mechanical watches, including a King Gold Hublot Classic Fusion. It's hard to choose the connected watch over my other amazing watches.

    But, I love my Fitbit and wear that all the time.

  • 4
    Al38 Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    I love my Huawei watch that my son bought for me last Christmas. One of the best presents ever, which just keeps getting better. I get immediate reminders for emails, texts, messenger, etc and it's often much quicker to get information or directions, or the latest soccer scores using voice commands via 'OK Google' than hauling out my S7; I can even play card games on it while waiting at the doctor's surgery, etc. It has both a microphone and a speaker so, if I wanted to, I could make/receive calls from my wrist! I can watch videos on it, but this is one area I prefer to use the Samsung S7 edge (lol). All this in a smartwatch that actually looks like a quality 'normal' watch. I wear and use it every day, and, being in my mid seventies, I can not be classed as a young geek - an old one perhaps, though!!

  • Pieter Uys 8
    Pieter Uys Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    I'm not so sure that smart watches are dead. Samsung sells more than 2000 Gear S2 smart watches per day (übergizmo)
    People who haven't owned a smart watch don't understand the convenience a smart watch brought to the smartphone experience. Let me explain:
    You're strapped into a plane seat, you're listening to music over headphones, and you can control all the music functions from your watch, without removing your phone from your pocket. With headphone controls you're controlling blind.
    All notifications can be viewed at a glance to access the importance, and most can be read on the watch.
    Music can be stored on the phone (4Gb internal memory) and, with Bluetooth headphones, supply music on your daily run. (try that with a cell phone)
    Note apps such as "My notes in Gear" enable you to have your shopping list on your wrist, so you don't fumble and drop your expensive cell phone to the concrete supermarket floor.
    You can make voice notes via your smart watch, and type replies to messages on your smart watch with the "Agile" keyboard app (it's easy. I do that a lot)

    So the advantages and conveniences are many, but as I said before, if you haven't owned and used one, you won't understand.

    • Mark G. 28
      Mark G. Nov 4, 2016 Link to comment

      "Music can be stored on 4GB with Bluetooth headphones supply music on your daily run - try that with a smartphone".....
      Are you serious? I have 64GB sd card with 25GB of music - I place the phone in my pocket - use my Bluetooth receiver with headphones then go for a run, why limit yourself to 4GB?

      Peace 🖖

      • 6
        xa ax Nov 4, 2016 Link to comment

        "I place the phone in my pocket." That statement right there proves the value of a smartwatch even with only 4gb of music. If you're going to be running for 8 hours then yes, 4gb might be too little. But I doubt the typical jogger will be on the trail that long. You should go out and buy a smartwatch from BestBuy and try it but with full intention of returning it for a refund before 14 days. Make sure you get a Gear S3 w/4g connectivity so that you can run without your phone & still be connected to data. You'll notice how much more pleasant running without a phone in your running shorts really feels. The ability to move about in any exercise without your mind being worried about your phone is the golden advantage that a 4g smartphone provides.

      • Pieter Uys 8
        Pieter Uys Nov 6, 2016 Link to comment

        As I stated before. If you haven't owned and used a smart watch, you won't understand. So, trying to argue with a person who hasn't used a smart watch, is like feeding medication to the dead.

  • 11
    Hilko R. Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    How can something be declared "dead" that was never alive?
    Aside the very succesful kickstarter campaigns for Pebble, there has never been a very succesful/popular smartwatch. But a product which has its basis in a kickstarter campaign, can hardly be called "mainstream".
    The iWatch is a marketing gimmick and status symbol (just like all the other overpriced Apple-crap (except for the Macbook, which is a prime quality product, just too bad it only runs that %&#$@-OS).
    Only the Moto 360, being the very first round smartwatch, was moderately succesful.

    Of course there are people very happy with their smartwatch and I would not mind having one, but ever since I got myself a mobile phone on which there is a clock, I've lost the need for a watch. I dont use it as a fashion accessoire.
    Why would I want one?

    I have pushbullet to mirror my notifications from my phone to my computer and laptop.
    I'm a lazy person and dont require a fitness tracker.
    All usecases for a smartwatch are therewith done for. Done.

    Only for people who a watch is a fashion accessoire, I can imagine a smartwatch being interesting.

    • 6
      xa ax Nov 4, 2016 Link to comment

      So you're a lazy lima bean for whom smart watches aren't meant for. Big deal. That in and of itself doesn't prove that smartwatches are "therewith done for". You can't measure a market by what YOU find appealing. If you could, the world wouldn't have Golds Gym, LA Fitness, & Equinox to name a few.

      You may not like fashion accessories, but the watch-as-a-fashion-accessory industry is huge and shows no sign of abating. Manufacturers are still trying to find the right combination of features and design to really explode in the market. The unfortunate thing is that Google's Android Wear sucks and doesn't allow for much software customization. I think Samsung is on a great path to finding the right combination. But what true success will come down to is which manufacturer will be able to develop their watch into an actual fashion brand and be able to offer an ongoing collection of smartwatches rather than just a onesy-twosy affair every 6-12mths. Make them available for sale at the jewelry counter in fine department stores displayed in their own collection case & you have the beginnings of a solid successful fashion brand. Keep selling them in Best Buy & smart watches will never make that branding leap.

  • 21
    Peter Harwood Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    What the hell is wrong with people! SmartWatches do the same as a smartphone but you need glasses to read them? gullible or what?

    Deactivated Account

  • 3
    Kyuta Syuko Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    I love my Gear S. Love being able to just see notifications, reply to messages, or control my music without having to pull out or grab my phone. It's also nice when I'm driving since my car's back from before Bluetooth was standard in cars so I can't just connect it to my radio and answer it that way. The battery life on it is good enough for me as well still even after a couple of years. Typically lasts from when I pull it off the charger around 0730 when I leave for work until I put it back on the charger before going to bed (between 2200 and 0100 typically) with between 40 and 60% left in the battery.

    Pieter Uys

  • Dean L. 34
    Dean L. Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    Battery life is the deal breaker for me.

    Deactivated Account

  • 28
    itprolonden Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

    I love my Apple Watch Series 1.

  • Kevin Jones 2
    Kevin Jones Nov 2, 2016 Link to comment

    I have a Pebble and will be upgrading soon. The problem with smart watches are the battery. Pebble does it right. I can charge up mine for like 15 mins once a week, if that, and I am good.

    For me, it's effective because I have a job where I can't take out my phone at all times. For me to get and reply to messages from my wrist are great.

    If the battery life were better, I think more people would get one.

  • A CC 2
    A CC Nov 2, 2016 Link to comment

    I have owned 2 Samsung smart watches over the past five years and I've been extremely happy with their versatility. I have to admit though the best thing my watch does it alert me when I've forgot my phone so I don't have to drive half way across the city to retrieve it.
    Have your smart watch save you an hour's worth the drive time and you'll love it too.

    Pieter Uys

  • Warren JB 10
    Warren JB Nov 2, 2016 Link to comment

    My dad bought a cheap chinese knockoff smart watch, because he'd heard wrist pedometers were a thing and this had that function. It received a lot less enthusiasm and attention when his first pay-as-you-go topup mysteriously disappeared from it in a day. Well, that, and it was wellnigh unnavigable and inoperable.

    I groaned a bit when all this happened, and promised that if he just wanted a pedometer, I'd've bought him a fitness tracker from a reputable manufacturer. And I agree that's the main advantage of the wearable tech fad. I wouldn't mind one myself - heck, it might actually get me to exercise. For a few days. I also agree with other commenters that receiving notifications from my smartphone would be convenient. But functioning as a smartphone in itself? Nah, I've already got one, with a better-sized screen for all that other tiny-portable-computer stuff.

    Oh, and it'd be neat if it told the time, too.

  • 13
    Some Tech Guy Nov 2, 2016 Link to comment

    I'm a watch guy. I had a Moto 360 (Gen 1) and moved to an LG Urbane 2 LTE. I like smart watches. I really liked the idea of a smart band but the company that promised one still fails to deliver. Overall if Apple wants more penetration the watch needs to have an API and compatibility with Android. Android Wear supports iPhone in a limited way. Apple will need to move to that direction to gain more sales. A watch should be agnostic. It's an accessory.

    Pieter Uys

    • 28
      itprolonden Nov 3, 2016 Link to comment

      I don't know. Apple doesn't seem to be wanting Android sales. Within its ecosystem, the watch can't be beat.

  • Rolf Hu 3
    Rolf Hu Nov 2, 2016 Link to comment

    I think Swatch goes the right way. Smart watches for different sports with a good battery that holds for weeks. Saddely they cover not many sport arts at present.

  • 49
    storm Nov 2, 2016 Link to comment

    Smartwatches were a solution looking for a problem

    Deactivated AccountBojan M.

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