Sales of smartwatches have lost steam on the road to the Internet of Things.
Most notably, the flood of Apple watches hitting the market seems to have hit a wall.
While sales of other smartwatches are up, the overall numbers are dragged down because Apple so dominates the market.
In the top five smartwatch brands, Apple is the only company to have lost ground, and a lot of it, based on the latest worldwide device tracker by the International Data Corporation (IDC).
Apple Watch shipments are down 55% from a year ago, although the month-to-month comparison includes the month the Apple Watch was launched.
At that time, Apple totally ruled the smartwatch market, with 72% share of all smartwatches.
That has dropped to less than a majority today, though still solidly in the top spot. Here’s the current state of smartwatch market share, according to IDC:
One of the issues with smartwatches is that they require a smartphone to be most useful, making them essentially a smartphone extension rather than a standalone component in the Internet of Things.
The smartwatch market will get a lot more interesting once watches are no longer required to be tethered to a phone.
“First, I think the reaction among consumers will be like this: ‘So I can be like Dick Tracy, right?’ Ramon T. Llamas, IDC’s research manager wearables and mobile phones told me. “And that’s fair, considering that people will think this will mean two-way communication. But to stop it at that is a huge mistake.
“From there, expect a flood of applications leveraging cellular connectivity to come to market. This is where it gets interesting. Think of all the things that can go back and forth from your wrist to the network that doesn’t require a smartphone. Notifications is one thing, but think of things like health and fitness information, tracking family and loved ones, GPS capability and mapping. That becomes incredibly powerful.”
Smarter and more independent smartwatches are unlikely to cause consumers to ditch their phones.
But the watch then will have the potential to become more of a hub or control point for other smart objects in the Internet of Things.