According to Canalys smartwatch sales in North America have increased by 38 percent over the last 12 months but worryingly Wear OS continues to trail everyone.

Market research company Canalys have conducted research on the world’s more valuable wearable market — the North American market. In Q2 2019 shipments were up 38 percent YoY reaching a high of 7.7 million units resulting in every wearable company listed in the research having growth YoY, just some better than others.

Apple followed the market trend increasing shipments from 2.2 million to 2.9 million but with their annual growth at 32 percent their percentage of the market dropped from 39.5 to 37.9 percent. We would expect the Australian market to effectively mirror the US market as it does for smartphone sales.

Second across the line was Fitbit and similarly to Apple they increased their shipments from 1.6 to 1.9 million giving a growth of 18 percent YoY but they saw their share of the market drop from 28 to 24 percent. This could well be because the Fitbit Versa Lite did not fare as well as they had hoped, with most buyers either opting for a cheaper fitband or going the high end smartwatch with all the bells and whistles — Fitbit shipped less smartwatches than the same time last year.

The big winner for the quarter was Samsung more than doubling their shipments compared with this time last year resulting in an increase in market share from 6.7 percent to 10.6 percent moving to third place in the market share leaderboard. Samsung’s stylish Galaxy Watch and Watch Active most likely have a lot to do with this with their many features sitting well with consumers at its price point.

Once again the biggest loser in the analysis is Google and its Wear OS. The only manufacturer pushing Wear OS to gain a mention was Fossil Group and even though they encompass quite a few brands they are sitting in fifth position. Their shipments did grow from 200,000 units to 300,000 units shipped but their percentage of the market lags at 4.1 percent, lower than the same time last year.

Our Analysis

This is very worrying for Google and Wear OS — all this time in the market and they still don’t seem to be making a dent in it. The future does not look like it will change that much. Unless Google manage to fix Wear OS and decide to actually push it themselves with a Pixel Watch this seems unlikely to change.

The volume of smartwatches out there in the stores, where people will usually buy smartwatches from (the same place as smartphones), is not great and then very rarely do you ever actually see a Wear OS smartwatch — and when you do it is hidden at the back corner of the store.

Google’s ability to get Wear OS into a truly great wearable operating system seems to be lacking at the moment although we have seem some success with increased RAM in the latest Mobvoi Ticwatch it is still a long way behind the rest of the pack. Google needs to get behind its product and start pushing it, both with improved performance and either advertising it or making their own Pixel Watch before it effectively disappears — just like Android tablets have.

Source: Canalys.
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Edward Dekkers

Yeah look I’ve had 2 wear OS watches and although I really like them, and yes would buy again, the quibbles and lag with wear OS is far too evident for me to ignore. Even Hey Google rarely works and switching functions can take a second or two. It’s just not fluid and solid enough as it stands. A pity because I think the UI and battery life are fine