Android Wear 2.0 Released To Massive Indifference
Want to know the true state of smartwatches? Have a look at Android Wear sales. Or lack of sales, to be more accurate.
Right now Apple has 60% of smartwatch sales, Samsung has 10% and everybody else, including Android Wear OEMs, share the remaining 30% - around two million units all told.
Apple has a hard core of users who will buy, and evangelise anything it produces. The Apple Watch seems to me to be one of those products that sells only to those dedicated Apple customers who determinedly purchase everything the company produces.
With sales hitting 5m last quarter Apple sold one Watch for every fifteen iPhones. That a pretty poor take up of a product that has been heavily trailed. Which is why I think the market is all about those big Apple fans.
Samsung leverages its popularity as the anti-Apple to be the second biggest smartwatch vendor - but at significantly less than a million units sold, it's hardly the most lucrative market for the company. Bizarrely there's a good case for saying that Samsung's Tizen-based watches are the best smartwatches you can buy today. Even that hasn't got customers to open their wallets.
What's left for Android Wear is a battle for the remaining sales with vendors like Fitbit and, until recently, Pebble. There are smartwatch buyers about, but there aren't many of them and very few of them are even considering Android Wear.
There's an absolute truth here. A smartwatch in its current form and with its current capability is a near impossible sell into the market because it's too much a computer on your wrist (which very few people want and even fewer need) instead of a watch.
A watch is about telling the time (primarily), looking good and making a statement (premium brands mostly. It's something you put on your wrist and then forget about until you need to know the time.
In the main we don't want to be constantly prodded and poked by notifications for services that demand attention. Its bad enough with a phone, for a watch its unforgiveable. Yes you can disable notifications, but then the smartwatch becomes a bad, power hungry watch.
So Google's Wear 2.0 update may improve the companion device to a point where it's feature competitive with Apple Watch and Samsung's Gear platform. What it won't do is make it more competitive with an actual watch.
In every sense of being a watch a smartwatch is worse than a real watch. And ultimately that is what people who wear a watch want from a watch. So until smartwatches can deliver the seamless experience of using a real watch don't expect real sales growth.