Smartwatch shipments fall 32 percent in Q2, Apple leads category downdraft

Apple Watch shipments fell 55 percent in the second quarter, according to IDC. That fall brought down the category.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Smartwatch shipments fell 32 percent in the second quarter from a year ago to 3.5 million units as Apple saw the biggest decline, down 55 percent, according to IDC data.

The research firm did note that Apple led the category with 1.6 million shipments, and the annual comparison happened to be the launch of the product.

Overall, smartwatch vendors shipped 3.5 million devices in the second quarter, down from 5.1 million a year ago.

IDC said sales of the Apple Watch have stalled as tech buyers wait for a hardware refresh and the new WatchOS. See: Apple's watchOS 3.0 uses in memory to be more responsive, updates outlined at WWDC. Indeed, CNET's Scott Stein recently noted in his updated Apple Watch review:

At this point, if you're looking to spend $300 on your wrist, you might just want to wait and see what happens. The current version works well enough for what it does. Not good enough to be a must-have; I'm not even sure anymore that the idea of a smartwatch is something that everyone should get onboard with. I like having one, but I don't like charging it. And I wish it were better.

Smartwatches may one day be the future of phones, or a seamless extension of both them and your home, or any number of connected devices. Right now, they function as phone accessories. And that's where the Apple Watch lands. It's helped me stay more connected, but I still use my phone more than I should.

Behind Apple, Samsung was No. 2, and IDC noted that the Gear S2 lineup has fared well since it decoupled from the smartphone. Lenovo has the Moto 360 brand to lead its Android Wear charge.


The wild card in the smartwatch industry is traditional watchmakers, which have added some smart features and acquired fitness tracker firms, but they haven't made a big splash.

One item worth noting is that IDC's data only includes smartwatches capable of running third-party applications on the device. Devices such as the Fitbit Blaze and Withings Activite are deemed to be basic wearables.

I'd argue that the Fitbit Blaze is more smartwatch than not.

In the end, the smartwatch figures shed some doubt on the category and its ability to have staying power.

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