Smart watches still looking for a raison d’etre

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Smart watches still looking for a raison d’etre : As more companies try to make a splash with smart watches, the purpose of such a product is still unclear. Could smart watches prove themselves to be more than expensive step counters?

As that question remains unresolved in customers’ minds, the quantity of shipments of smart watches decreased drastically in the global market this year.

According to the International Data Corporation, the number of units that were sold around the world in the third quarter of 2016 was 2.7 million, less than half the amount sold in the same quarter last year, which was 5.6 million. Sales for the final quarter of this year will be an indicator of where the smart watch segment is going.

One main reason for the decline is the poor performance of the Apple Watch, which debuted in February 2015. The Apple Watch was responsible for 70.2 percent of all smart watch sales in the third quarter of 2015.

Its popularity was short-lived, however, with sales peaking at 5.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015. In the following quarter, less than half that amount were sold, dropping down to 2.2 million. And in the third quarter of this year, the number halved again to 1.1 million.

Samsung Electronics isn’t doing well in the segment either. Its Gear series didn’t prove to be the big success the company hoped for. Samsung’s high-tech watch took second place in the global market by selling 400,000 units in the third quarter of last year, but that’s as far as it went.

Samsung has even had to give up its second place in the market to Garmin, the U.S. sports gadget brand. The 170,000 won ($144) Gear Fit2 watches are now being given out free to customers who made pre-reservations for Note7.

“Many people are selling their Gear Fit2s on the second-hand market, and it’s affecting the sales of new products,” said an IT insider. Why are smart watches struggling so much? Experts point to the lack of uniqueness for the products within the IT market. In other words, they have nothing to make them stand out from existing smart devices.

The key idea was to give notifications to users who were in situations in which they didn’t have their smart phones with them. They got a heads-up on texts or calls that came through.