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The Apple Watch was an instant hit from the moment it came out, but how much did it affect the smartwatch industry in 2015? According to a study by Juniper Research, a marketing and technology research firm, the tech giant’s first wearable smartwatch accounted for over half (51.1 percent or 8.8 million devices sold) of global smartwatch shipments last year.

Impressively, the Apple Watch was released in April of 2015, and only had a little over the second half of the year to gain a foothold in the nascent sector. During that period, the smartwatch space was extremely active with new product launches almost every two months, which makes the accomplishment exceptionally worthy of praise. The company’s competition, Android Wear, was only able to grab 10 percent of the share, even though it was being used by top manufacturing brands in the sector like Motorola, LG, Fossil and Huawei. Samsung’s Tizen platform also failed to take off, due to its limited integration features.

“The smartwatch is now a category waiting for a market,” explained Juniper research analyst James Moar. “Newer devices have offered more polished looks and subtly different functions, but no large changes in device capabilities or usage. With smartwatch functions established, it is now up to consumers to decide if they want them, rather than technology companies providing more reasons.”

What’s next for Apple?

Apple will likely further capitalize on its dominance in 2016 with the release of the Apple Watch 2. The second-generation wearable promises to fix issues that many were having with the first one. It will also cater to those who were hesitant about adopting the initial model, thinking it would be a major flop. Apple proved that it wasn’t, and this time around the establishment hopes to win over the skeptics and haters. Users can also expect to have access to more apps.

Currently, there are several rumors surrounding the specs and features of the highly anticipated device. Word on the street is that the company plans on launching a set of smart bands with advanced biometrics capabilities to go with the unit. It could be planning to beef up health-tracking functionalities in a move to beat out Fitbit, Under Armour and Garmin. Other rumors include a slimmer design and possibly a circular watch head.


Cheaper Smartwatches on the Rise

As for the rest of the tech brands that are competing for second place, there’s one trend that could cause a major shift in the market this year. With smartwatch adoption and tech reaching the tipping point, individuals could expect a wave of new products on the way. Unfortunately, the majority of the releases will not be premium units and will come from small, poorly funded startups.

“Most other smartwatch sales are currently coming from cheaper, simpler devices from a range of smaller players, such as Martian, X and Razer, the latter with the recently-announced Nabu Watch,” explained Juniper Research. On a positive note, because smartwatches are becoming more affordable, replacing them won’t break the bank like they previously did in the past.

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