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Smartwatch shipments nosedive, but recovery due in 2017

Matt Hamblen | July 27, 2016
As more smartwatches connect to LTE and get more stylish, growth will return, IDC predicts

In addition to OS updates, Ubrani said top smartwatch makers still have a ways to go to improve styling of the devices, especially to attract women buyers. “All the watches look kind of similar and are not very female friendly,” he said.

In the next two years, more traditional watch makers will enter the smartwatch market. So far, Casio, Fossil and Tag Heuer have launched their own smartwatch models. As more traditional watch brands start selling the devices, the market will grow, IDC said.

New applications and games will also help smartwatch growth, Ubrani said. Some users might want to play Pokemon Go on a smartwatch, Ubrani said. However, a Pokemon Go Plus wearable has already been announced that can be worn on the wrist with a polyester wristband to connect via Bluetooth to a smartphone running the game. It will sell for $35.

“There’s definitely room to grow with apps for smartwatches,” Ubrani said. One application that Apple has already announced could be useful for workers, allowing an Apple Watch user to unlock a Macbook when approaching the laptop. Microsoft is working on a similar concept, he added.

“That kind of security feature using biometrics is very interesting to the enterprise audience,” he said.

Another change needed to help smartwatch growth is lower prices. “Prices do have to come down across the board,” Ubrani said.

“Right now, smartwatches don’t do a whole lot more than a phone and yet cost a lot more than a phone on contract,” he said. “On-contract pricing for a smartphone can be $100 to $300, but watches start at $300 and above.”

Carriers offer on-contract subsidies for phones, but not for smartwatches.


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