Apple Watch dominates quarterly smartwatch shipments as Android Wear 2.0 sees delay

Figures have come out surrounding smartwatch shipments and it makes for pretty reading for Apple. According to research firm Canalys, Apple set a new quarterly shipment record in the fourth quarter of 2016 and took nearly 80 per cent of total smartwatch revenue. 

In total, in excess of 9 million smartwatches were shipped, largely dominated by the 6 million Apple Watches that made their way into the world. This represents a year-on-year growth of 12 per cent. It was also the Apple Watch’s best quarter, desipte apparently being significantly handicapped by supply constraints, even though Apple expanded its supply chain. According to estimates, the Apple Watch generated more than US$2.6 billion in revenue for Apple in the fourtth quarter. That’s a lot of money. 

“Apart from the hardware and software improvements of the new models, Apple succeeded mainly due to its streamlined marketing and re-aligned pricing, which helped it address a wider audience,” said Analyst Jason Low. "The Series 1’s lower entry price and Apple’s more focused fitness messaging made its Watch both more attainable and more relevant.” The research firm estimates that Apple shipped 11.9 million Watches over the course of 2016, bringing its market share down to 50 per cent globally for the year.

Elsewhere, Chinese vendor Xiaomi also scored a record quarter of its own for basic band shipments, reaching 5.5 million Mi Bands. “New batches of Mi Band 2s were shipped in time for the Singles’ Day shopping festival in China”, according to Analyst Jason Low. “Building on the success of its first-generation Mi Band, Xiaomi quickly expanded the availability of the Mi Band 2 across Asia Pacific and Central and Eastern Europe. India, Poland and Russia were key markets where the device was introduced alongside the company’s Mi and Redmi smartphones through direct and third-party online channels.”

Samsung is expected to push shipments of its Gear S3 Classic and Frontier over the coming quarters, and it is expected that Android Wear shipment volumes will bounce back. This Android Wear lull is partly down the postponement of several new products due to the delay of Android Wear 2.0.

That last point is very important. Apple’s staggering dominance this quarter is likely to be deceptive. Canalys expects the Cupertino firm’s market share will deflate somewhat as vendors release Android Wear 2.0 products in the coming months.

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