Smartwatches may have just turned the corner. Global shipments of the devices, led by Apple Watch, for the first time surpassed those of Swiss watches in the fourth quarter of 2015, according to figures released by market researcher Strategy Analytics.
Apple Watch remained the most popular smartwatch through the quarter with a 63% share, or about 5.1 million of the 8.1 million shipments. Samsung was second with a 16% share and an estimated 1.3 million unit sales. Together, the two smartphone leaders had a 79% share, or nearly eight out of 10 smartwatches sold worldwide in the last holiday season.
The highlight of the study is the heat Swiss watchmakers are facing. The traditional watchmakers suffered a 5% fall in the last quarter of 2015. While this may not seem much, compare this to the mammoth 316% rise that smartwatches saw in the same quarter and one can easily say smartwatches outpacing traditional luxury watches is a trend slowly catching up.
"Smartwatches are growing rapidly in North America, Western Europe and Asia. Global Swiss watch shipments on the other hand reached 7.9 million units in Q4 2015, falling 5% from 8.3 million in Q4 2014 as global demand for Swiss watches is slowing down, and major players like Swatch are struggling to find growth," says the report.
Apple being the leader in the smartwatch segment had hinted long back that this would happen. Jonathan Ive, Apple's chief designer, had told the NYT in 2014 itself that the luxury watch market would be in "trouble" after the debut of the then-unannounced Apple Watch. And even though Apple does not detail Apple Watch sales in its financial earnings, most studies including this one show it is the market leader for now.
Neil Mawston, Executive Director at Strategy Analytics, gave a plausible explanation as to why this was happening and said: "The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches. It has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away."
But smartwatches are not going anywhere with consumers loving the trend and waiting for more updated versions of the Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S2, Moto 360 and other watches. Apple Watch 2, HTC Watch,Sony SmartWatch 4, Motorola Moto 360 3, Samsung Gear S3 and Huawei Watch 2 are some of the most awaited smartwatches this year.