Date
4 December 2016
Global sales of smartwatches slid in the third quarter, largely due to their lack of practical functionality. Photo: theinformation.com
Global sales of smartwatches slid in the third quarter, largely due to their lack of practical functionality. Photo: theinformation.com

Smart watches still not smart enough

Sales of once highly hyped smart watches tumbled 51.6 percent to 2.7 million units year on year in the third quarter, according to a new report by market analyst IDC.

Various brands have suspended the launch of new models amid weak customer appetite for a gadget that still has limited practical functions.

Apple Watch sales slumped 71.6 percent in the third quarter from the previous year and its market share dropped to 41.3 percent from 70.2 percent.

But Apple Watch still has a big lead compared with a market share of 20.5 percent for Garmin, 14.4 percent for Samsung, 3.4 percent for Lenovo and 3.2 percent for Pebble.

Apple Watch’s Series One device was launched in April last year and there were widespread complaints about its limited functionality, weight, short battery life etc. And it has to be used together with an iPhone.

Apple Watch Series 2 hit the market in September. However, other than adding a water-resistance feature, the upgraded device offers little surprise and fails to address the above shortcomings.

There are some major technical constraints that prevent smart watches from becoming a daily necessity like smartphones.

A smart watch doesn’t have a SIM card and have no telecommunications function on its own.

Its coin-sized display is inherently unsuitable for surfing the internet or typing.

Some companies are working on a solution to these problems.

France’s Luxusure said its new DZ09 smart watch will come with an independent SIM card. Samsung and Lenovo both have launched smart watches with built-in projectors.

Smartphones first appeared in the late 1990s but the first iPhone debuted almost a decade later in 2007.

So it will take time before the smart watch becomes a mature technology. But with smartphone technology, perhaps it won’t take so long this time.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Nov. 1

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RT/RA

Hong Kong Economic Journal columnist

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