Apple Watch Series 2

Whatever Happened to the Smartwatch Boom?

Just about two years after Apple promised that the Apple Watch would change our lives, we’re wondering. Are we watching a smartwatch boom, a bust, or a work in progress? A new report from IDC says that things haven’t quite happened as Apple predicted back in April 2015.

Smartwatches still haven’t killed the basic Fitbit, which remains number one in worldwide sales and market share. Focusing on fitness is a formula that seems to be paying off. In fact, the top three competitors for putting technology on your wrist – Fitbit, Xiaomi, and Garmin – all focus on fitness tracking.

Fitbit cranked out five million units around the world in the third quarter of this year with a boost from its new Charge 2. Xiaomi sells the cheapest fitness band you can buy. Garmin competes with advanced features that win the hearts of fitness die hards.

The Apple Watch strategy to put the coolest all-purpose technology on your wrist has not yet caught fire. Apple CEO Tim Cook disputed the idea that the Apple Watch is lagging instead of leading the market. “Sales growth is off the charts,” he told Reuters. But Apple still is not releasing any specific sales numbers. Cook simply said that the Apple Watch “looks to be one of the most popular holiday gifts this year.”

One thing is clear. Except for the Apple Watch, all-purpose smartwatches have tanked. The Pebble watch – once an up and comer – is dead. Fitbit bought it to shut it down. Android watches are becoming invisible.

The Apple Watch may yet emerge in a form that takes its place on every wrist in America. But it’s not there yet. Until then, FitBit owns your wrist.

Click here for the IDC report, here for more from Wearable, and here for more from Ars Technica.

Apple Watch Series 2, photograph © Apple Inc.

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December 23, 2016