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Don't Believe Everything You Read, The Smartwatch Market Was Stable Last Quarter


Read the headlines today and you'd probably believe that customers are deserting the smartwatch and nobody actually wants the things. That's the take that most sites are taking from a sales report released by IDC today.

Now I'm no fan of smartwatches, but even the most basic reading of the numbers will tell you that all is not as it seems.

Year on year the market shrank from 5.6m sales to 2.7m - about a 50% fall. Sounds pretty horrendous doesn't it? However if you remove Apple from the equation you find that smartwatch sales fell from 2.8m to 2.7m - well within the confidence level of a report like this.

So let's take a look at Apple then. Year on year sales fell from 3.9m to 1.1m, accounting for all of the headline sales contraction. So does nobody want an Apple Watch any more?

Far from it. What actually happened was the release of a new Apple Watch, something that was leaked well in advance and was picked up by more tech savvy smartwatch buyers as a sign to hold fire for the new, improved Apple product.

The new version was on sale for two weeks of the quarter, far too little time to impact the sales numbers. As this was the first time that the Watch has been substantialy updated it was inevitable that the impact on sales was going to be significant. 

So this quarter's sales were artificially lowered. Next quarter however, things should look much better. Then we'll probably get headlines claiming that smartwatches are the next big thing after all.

The truth is that non-Apple smartwatch sales are flat, whilst Apple's sales are impacted by update cycles. As the market matures and we have more evidence of past sales performance only then will we be able to see what the future looks like for the smartwatch.

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