Despite the push back of Android Wear 2.0 to later this year, research firm Strategy Analytics is reporting that smartwatch shipments grew 1% annually for 2016, hitting a record 8.2 million units sold during the fourth quarter of the year. The strongest driver for smartwatch growth last quarter was the Apple Watch, with Samsung coming up in second place.
20.8 million smartwatches were sold in 2015, with a jump to 21.1 million for 2016 despite the stumbling steps of Android Wear. What’s interesting here is that Apple is estimated to have shipped a record 5.2 million smartwatches worldwide, while Samsung’s Tizen-based Gear smartwatch sales saw a significant decrease from 1.3 million in 2015 to only 0.8 million this year in the same quarter.
Apple and Samsung are leagues ahead of other manufacturers in the wearable space, too. The research firm estimates that both companies account for 3 out of 4 smartwatches shipped globally, despite stiff competition from rivals like Huawei, Garmin, and Fitbit.
It will be interesting to see if the release of Android Wear 2.0 can rejuvenate the Android smartwatch space. The Huawei Watch and other elegant solutions released last year were certainly interesting, but many people feel as though the high cost of owning a smartwatch isn’t worth the convenience the devices bring. Will lower cost devices help bridge that gap this year?