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Apple Watch leads the pack, while Android Wear falls back

Research suggests that Apple's smartwatch has 52% share of the global shipments, while Android Wear watches have managed to garner a measly 10% share

The smartwatch ecosystem is still maturing, but Apple seems to have gotten it spot on in its very first attempt. According to latest shipment data from Juniper Research, the total shipments of smartwatches touched the 17.1 million figure in 2015. But, what stands out is the fact that Apple Watch clocked 8.8 million shipments, which translates into 51.5% share. (Read more here.

These numbers come at a time when Apple is steadfastly refusing to share Apple Watch sales figures officially.

What was an even bigger surprise though being the fact that Google’s Android Wear smartwatches, of which there are many made by the likes of Samsung, Motorola, Asus, LG and many other brands, could only register 10% share of the shipments. And this totally against the conventional wisdom, because Android Wear watches have a much lower entry price point (the Moto 360 is available for less than 10,000, while the Apple Watch costs upwards of 30,000). Juniper says that cheaper devices made by companies like Martian and Razer, which just announced the Nabu Watch starting at $149, sold very well. However, both these brands are officially not present in India at the moment.

One of the reasons why the Apple Watch has dominated its rivals is because of the number of apps available for the wearable. As of May last year, there were 10,000 Apple Watch apps, while the Android Wear platform was struggling with just 4,000 apps for their smartwatches. Yes, apps on both platforms have added support for the watches since then, but Google’s Android Wear has not done that at a pace much faster than the Apple WatchOS platform. And the same application range is also a potential reason why Samsung’s Tizen-based Gear2 is not selling well—apart from the fact that it runs a completely different operating system.

Then there is the very genuine problem of utility. Not many smartphone users are convinced that they need another screen to pair with the phone. There is the issue of design, which the more style conscious don’t like because of the thickness of the dial itself. Of the total number of consumers surveyed by Juniper during this research, 31% said they had no immediate plans to buy a wearable, and said they didn’t think they’d use the device. There is a clear indication that buying a smartwatch isn’t an idea that comes naturally to people, and they need to be convinced that they may need a smartwatch. “Several users and reviewers note that this simply shifts the benefit of notification to another location, rather than lessening the load," Juniper research says.

But, these numbers must be read with caution. Apple Watch’s 8.8 million shipments are actually not a lot, when compared to the fact that more than 200 million iPhones were sold in 2015. Rest assured, we will see a successor to the Apple Watch, this year.

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