The worldwide smartwatch market saw “a round of growing pains” in Q3, with weakness at market leader Apple impacting the market as a whole.
According to research firm IDC, the market as a whole saw a 51.6 per cent decrease in shipments (to 2.7 million units from 5.6 million units). It noted that the comparable period last year was the first in which Apple Watch was widely available, whereas this year the second-generation Apple Watch only became available at the end of the period.
Apple saw its volume decreasing 71.6 per cent, to 1.1 million from 3.9 million.
“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. 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, aging devices to satisfy customers,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s wearables team.
Garmin saw strong year-on-year growth to take number two spot. The company’s focus on health and fitness, and applications which reflect this, contrasts with other watches’ positioning as multi-purpose devices.
Samsung finished Q3 slightly up in volume terms, driven by its aging Gear S2. While the company has unveiled an updated version, this has not yet reached the market.
Lenovo, which (through Motorola) has been something of a smartwatch stalwart with its Moto 360, suffered the largest year-on-year decline, IDC said. This was attributed to multiple channels selling out of its first and second generation devices, and a scarcity of its latest Moto 360 Sport – and unusually the company has not unveiled a new device for the holiday sales period.
Rounding out the top five was smartwatch pioneer Pebble, which released Pebble 2 late in the third quarter.