The Fossil Q Founder, pictured above, rounded 2015 as a big year for Android Wear in terms of product launches. Last year we saw the excellent Huawei Watch come out of nowhere, Motorola introduced a new version of the Moto 360 and big names like Fossil, and even TAG Heuer adopted Google’s platform. It might have been a good year in terms of product launches, but in terms of sales it wasn’t, at least according to the latest report from industry analyst, Juniper Research.
According to a January report from Juniper Research, the Apple Watch made up 52% of shipments last year where smartwatches were concerned, leaving Android Wear devices with just 10% in comparison. There’s no telling how accurate these reports are, but considering Juniper Research is a well-respected name in the industry, there’s little reason for them to fudge the figures. If true, this would be a pretty worrying statistic for Google and their partners to digest. With more models and so, so much more choice than the Apple Watch you’d think that Android Wear would perhaps have shipped say 20 or 30% in the face of Apple’s 52%, but it appears that price and functionality are playing a bigger roll than we thought.
Juniper Research conducted a little survey towards the end of last year, and found that of the 50% of people that said they were not looking to buy a smartwatch or wearable, they said that they didn’t want to spend more than $99. Those that were thinking of buying said they didn’t want to spend more than $175, which puts pretty much every current Android Wear device out of the running, as well as the Apple Watch. So, how is it the Apple Watch is so popular? Well, taking Apple’s bizarre brand power and relentless marketing out of the equation it appears that people simply expect more from a smartwatch, and in many cases a fitness tracker fulfils the extras that they want. Devices like the Fibit Charge, the Razer Nabu and the Microsoft Band blur the lines of smartwatch and fitness tracker, while also offering much better fitness features than an Android Wear device.
The Apple Watch however, has fitness firmly ‘in the bag’ offering up some of the best fitness tracking and monitoring available on a smartwatch, save for perhaps the Fitbit Surge. These devices are starting to blend into one, too as fitness trackers offer the features people expect from a smartwatch and analog watches – like the Fossil Q54 – offer some basic activity tracking. It would appear that Google’s bet on updating the watch for the 21st Century isn’t paying off, as the more traditional – arguably better-looking designs – devices from LG and Huawei are looked over for the likes of fancy fitness trackers.
Hopefully, 2016 will be a different year for Android Wear, and with new software features coming from Google and new hardware from big-name partners they can take the fight to Apple and their expensive tiny iPhone.