Smartwatch Shipments Decline 51%, Apple Not Immune to Market’s Troubles

Some thought that smartwatches go from niche to mainstream when Apple released a version. They were wrong.

According to data from the International Data Corporation’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, smartwatch volumes reached 2.7 million units shipped last quarter, a decrease of 51% from the 5.6 million units shipped in the year-ago quarter. And Apple was not immune to this trend: indeed, the company’s shipments dropped 71%. Lenovo (-54%) and Pebble (-27%) are not faring much better.

“The sharp decline in smartwatch shipment volumes reflects the way platforms and vendors are realigning,” noted Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team. “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.”

Apple remains the biggest smartwatch vendor, according to IDC. Last year its marketshare was 70%; today, just 41%. Still, Garmin in second place has only 20% of the market. Garmin went against the grain by growing shipments by 324%. But it’s just not a big market to have a slice of.

“It has become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers. “Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount.”

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