I’m Worried About the Apple Watch

IDC released new numbers on the smart watch market, and they don’t look good. Overall, the market is down 51% over last year (quarter over quarter), and the Apple Watch’s sales were down 71%!

Let’s talk about that 71% first. It makes total sense to me that the Apple Watch would have lower sales this summer compared to last summer. The product that Apple had on the market was over a year old, so one would imagine that most people who wanted to get one already had it. As for people who follow Apple news, they weren’t buying them this summer because there were new models on the horizon, in the Apple Watch Series 1 & 2. Seeing lowered sales on any product year over year are never fun, but at least some of this downturn can be explained.

But then there’s the 51% the entire industry dropped over last summer. The entire market got chopped in half in just 12 short months. You can’t explain away a drop like that with just release cycles. Samsung has released a few new Gear watches in that time, and Pebble refreshed their entire lineup. An objective observer would have to draw the conclusion that interest in the smart watch market is waning.

Another worrying thought is that Google announced last month that they were delaying the launch of Android Wear 2.0 until 2017. It was going to be a big part of their fall Android releases, but has been bumped. I’ve seen Apple fanboys say this is because Android Wear sucks and watchOS is so good they had to delay, but that’s not realistic. If Android Wear was considered an important enough part of the Android ecosystem by Google, they would have gotten something ready to ship by the holiday season. Android Wear just isn’t a high enough priority for them right now.

This changes nothing about how much I love my Apple Watch. I still wear it everyday and find it to be one of the most essential parts of my technology life, but I do worry about it’s long term prospects if the market is shrinking up for it already. There are 2 new Apple Watch models on the market right now, and the holiday season is about to kick off in a few short weeks. We’ll see how the Apple Watch does for the last 2 months of 2016, but if we don’t see a jump in sales this season then I’m really worried about how much more energy it makes sense for Apple to put behind this product.