Has the smartwatch revolution run its course, or is this just the beginning?
Apple is dominating
The Apple Watch is raking in almost 80 per cent of all smartwatch revenue after a bumper Q4 to end 2016 according to research firm Canalys, shipping more than six million units and raking in $2.6 billion in revenue. Apple moved about 12 million watches over the last 12 months — a 50 per cent share of the market, in large part thanks to its affordable entry-level price — with the rest split between Fitbit, Samsung, and other competitors. But Apple might not enjoy this huge slice of the pie for long . . .
Is Android bouncing back?
The Android Wear 2.0 — long-awaited after lengthy delays to its release over the last 12 months — is being hyped up as Apple’s chief competitor, but the jury’s out on whether it can dent the market leader’s dominance. Google’s initial forays into wearable devices have been fraught (who can forget the disastrous Google Glass, or the underwhelming reaction to their first gen smartwatch), but the Android Wear 2.0 is a significant improvement, with user-friendly voice control (Google Assistant), music streaming, and sophisticated navigation. The platform is available on LG and Huawei timepieces, and Tag Heuer has just released the Connected Modular 45 (see link below) for an added touch of luxury. Should Tim Cook be quaking in his boots? Time will tell.
Fitness trackers are no fad
If Apple weren’t worried about the Fitbit, they wouldn’t have shifted their smartwatch marketing strategy to target the health and fitness audience. Ads for the first generation Apple Watch focused on its aesthetic and ability to make phone calls, whereas demonstrations of the second gen piece released late 2016 instead underscore qualities like a GPS tracker and being waterproof (ideal traits for runners), as well as a special collab with Nike for a limited-run piece. Activity trackers aren’t going anywhere and they make up around 15 per cent of the smartwatch sector, so the Apple Watch is doing all it can to win fitness freaks over to the cult of Apple.
Keep an eye on the others
Samsung’s S3 Gear — with its stylish stainless steel bezel and black high-res screen — has been met with positive reviews for its long battery life and fitness tracking programs, while the Sony Smartwatch 3 and Moto 360 are both affordable smartwatch options. But perhaps the pick of the rest is Chinese brand Xiaomi, who have released a fitness-focused smartwatch called the Amazfit that syncs with both iOS and Android phones and carries a price tag of a little over $100. Watch this space . . .