Apple Watch sales go over a cliff: Down 2.8 meellion per quarter in a year

If a wearable does much more than measure your pulse, it hardly has a pulse

Apple's Watch range sold 1.1m units in 2016's third quarter, a stunning 2.9m fewer than the same quarter in 2015.

The dip means Apple's share of the wearables market dipped from 17.5 per cent to 4.9 per cent in a year, representing -71 per cent growth according to abacus-twirler IDC's new Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. Part of the problem was the late September launch of the second-generation Watch, which would have made the quarter's first two months a dry shopping period. But IDC reckons the market is settling down to be all about sweat.

"It's still early days, but we're already seeing a notable shift in the market," says the firm's senior research analyst for mobile device trackers Jitesh Ubrani. "Where smartwatches were once expected to take the lead, basic wearables now reign supreme.”

So supreme that of the 23m wearables shipped in the quarter, 85 per cent were fitness devices. FitBit was way out in front with 5.3m devices shipped. Yet even that lead isn't translating into a pleasing balance sheet: Fitbit recently reported a profit slump.

Simplicity is the key to such devices success and it doesn't hurt that manufacturers have figured out that the devices need to look fashionable. Smartwatches, by contrast, are still complex, need a paired phone to be at their best and don't enhance personal productivity. IDC reckons if watch-makers can crack productivity, they're in with a show.

Then there's the issue of price: fitness wearables can be pleasantly priced. The Apple Watch retains a heftier price-tag.

Here's the numbers for the month.

Top 5 wearable device vendors, w/w shipments, market share and year-over-year growth, 3Q16 (units in millions)

Vendor

3Q16 Unit Shipments

3Q16 Market Share

3Q15 Unit Shipments

3Q15 Market Share

Year-Over-Year Growth

1. Fitbit

5.3

23.0%

4.8

21.4%

11.0%

2. Xiaomi

3.8

16.5%

3.7

16.4%

4.0%

3. Garmin

1.3

5.7%

1.2

5.3%

12.2%

4. Apple

1.1

4.9%

3.9

17.5%

-71.0%

5.Samsung

1.0

4.5%

0.5

2.4%

89.9%

Others

10.4

45.3%

8.3

37.0%

26.1%

Total

23.0

100.0%

22.3

100.0%

3.1%

Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, December 5, 2016

Don't get too excited about Xiaomi's position in the chart: IDC says its new Mi “is priced well below any competition, making it more suitable for impulse buying than any other fitness band.” The company also “continues to struggle to gain any significant traction outside its home country of China.”

Which surely makes the overall picture even grimmer for the other wearables-makers. ®

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