IDC: Smartwatch sales decline for the first time

The Apple Watch saw a sharp year-over-year drop in sales, according to IDC estimates, but it still leads in overall smartwatch market share.

IDC’s smartwatch sales estimates for the second quarter of 2016 are in, and the news isn’t great, particularly for Apple.

According to IDC’s latest report, worldwide smartwatch sales slumped 32 percent in the second quarter of 2016, when compared to the same period last year. Much of the drop is due to an apparent decline in Apple Watch sales, according to IDC. The research firm estimates that Apple shipped 1.6 million smartwatches in the quarter, down from 3.6 million a year earlier.

Overall, smartwatch makers shipped a total of 3.5 million devices in the April-to-June quarter, IDC says. That compares to a total of 5.1 million in the year-ago quarter.

(Disclaimer: IDC is owned by IDG, our parent company, but it has no editorial ties to this publication whatsoever.)

Although Apple remains the top-selling smartwatch vendor, it was the only one of the top five smartwatch makers to see a drop in sales: Samsung, Lenovo, LG, and Garmin all saw significant growth, percentage-wise, according to IDC.

Despite all this, Apple maintains a large lead in terms of market share, with a 47-percent chunk of the proverbial pie. Although that’s down from the 72-percent market share the company commanded a year earlier, Samsung, the next closest company in terms of sales, holds down only 16 percent.

RIP smartwatches? Not quite.

But before you start declaring the smartwatch dead, there are a few things to keep in mind.

First, as IDC explains, “the year-over-year comparison is to the initial launch quarter of the Apple Watch,” which skews the numbers some against Apple. Also, IDC notes that Apple hasn’t released an update to the Apple Watch’s hardware since then, which may be suppressing demand—many potential buyers may simply be waiting for the next Apple Watch.

Second, Apple doesn’t report Apple Watch sales in its financial results, which complicates matters some when trying to estimate sales. (Data from component suppliers and such can give you an idea, but it isn’t the same as getting numbers directly from the manufacturer.)

Also, these are still the early days of the smartwatch, and relatively few companies are producing them in significantly quantities. With that in mind, it doesn’t take much for one company’s sales fluctuations to impact sales for the entire market segment.

Taken all together, you have what looks like a blip in sales, not necessarily a sign of things to come.

Sales growth expected in 2017

Despite the second-quarter decline, IDC sees a rebound next year, driven by “continued platform development, cellular connectivity, and an increasing number of applications,” according to IDC’s Ramon T. Llamas. Llamas expects these developments to “appeal to a broader market,” spurring growth in sales. But IDC also notes that “exactly when that rebound happens will depend heavily on when vendors drive a better use case.”

In other words, the smartwatch has great promise and potential, but there’s still a lot of work to be done.

Disclosure: The author of this article provides copywriting services to TechSoup, a nonprofit organization that works with Apple subsidiary FileMaker and many other technology companies to provide nonprofits with technology products and services. His role at TechSoup does not influence his work for this publication.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Apple watch

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Nick Mediati

PC World (US online)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?