Apple cornered close to half the shipments as the smart watch segment grew to over 6.1 million units for Q3 2016 with an annual increase of 60 per cent, said research firm Canalys. Apple’s numbers can be attributed to the release of new Series 1 and Series 2 Apple Watch models which are doing better than the original model released last year.
“While the new models are selling well, there are still unsold first-generation Apple Watches in the channel,” said Canalys analyst Daniel Matte. He assessed that Q4 performance will be key to the long-term prospects of the new Watch models. “Apple needs to make a strong marketing push during the holiday shopping season, especially to highlight new and compelling apps for its platform,” he said, adding that the renewed focus on fitness functionality had put the Apple Watch in direct competition with Fitbit. “The inclusion of GPS by Apple and many other vendors now poses a big threat to traditional GPS watches and fitness trackers.”
However, Canalys analyst Jason Low said the iPhone’s “slowing momentum has affected consumer interest in Apple’s smart watch and the company needs to improve Watch sales in major markets outside of the US, especially China”.
Canalys estimates that the overall Chinese smart watch market managed to grow 42 per cent year on year. “The delays to both Android Wear 2.0 and Samsung’s Gear S3 have hurt 2016 smart watch shipments and resulted in lower growth, to be expected in a nascent market. Xiaomi’s wearables partner Huami launching its first Amazfit smart watch was an important development, bringing quality smart watches to a much lower price point of RMB799 (about US$120).”
Meanwhile, Samsung had a strong quarter, managing to ship over 1.1 million smart watches thanks to the Gear Fit2. And Fitbit was holding on as the world’s number three smart watch vendor, shipping 1 million units, Canalys said. India seemed to be the only market where the company was doing well in Asia.
Garmin was placed fourth with 200,000 vívoactive smart watches shipped in the quarter while Pebble came next with 130,000 units of its new Pebble 2. Shipments from Huawei, Lenovo and LG all fell due to a lack of product refreshes.
Meanwhile, Canalys said the basic band segment grew 18 per cent sequentially to 11.5 million shipments in Q3. Now, the total wearables market is about 17.6 million, signifying healthy year-on-year growth of 31% for the overall wearables market.