In last week’s news blast, I touched upon the fact that there appears to be a huge consolidation happening in wearables. Just a few years ago, you wouldn’t catch a company without some contraption that went around your wrist and Sony was no different. Most people know them for the SmartWatch series but Sony also pumped out the SmartBand, SmartBand Talk, and even did partnerships with brands like Roxy. Now, besides Apple who is doing solid business with Apple Watch, hardly anybody wants to talk about wearables.
— Pebble (@Pebble) December 7, 2016
Pebble, for its part, is now dead and gone. The once darling of the crowdfunding community, just last week sold all of its assets to Fitbit (which can been struggling on its own) for $40 million and now ceases to operate. If you had any new units from them on order, they’ve been cancelled and all warranties are now null and void. Sure, you might chalk them up to being a small fish but others are exiting the business as fast as they can too.
Lenovo Moto today confirmed that it will not be releasing a new smartwatch for the launch of Android Wear 2.0, due early next year. The company had earlier said it would not be releasing a new smartwatch in 2016, but it is now saying that it doesn’t plan to put out a new device timed to the arrival of Google’s newest wearable platform, either.
When it comes to demand, there simply isn’t any for Android Wear.
Shakil Barkat, head of global product development at Moto, said the company doesn’t “see enough pull in the market to put [a new smartwatch] out at this time,” though it may revisit the market in the future should technologies for the wrist improve. “Wearables do not have broad enough appeal for us to continue to build on it year after year,” Barkat said, and indicated that smartwatches and other wearable devices will not be in Moto’s annual device roadmap.
And let me be clear about that: I didn’t write demand for wearables, but rather Android Wear, because I believe this is a market that’s going to continue to grow. Even Fitbit, though struggling compared to their own trajectories for a year or so ago, are still selling their fitness trackers in the millions. And rest assured, Apple Watch is doing just fine despite what some headlines have indicated. As it stands and prior to Apple refreshing their entire line with Series 1 and Series, Apple become the world’s second largest watch manufacturer by revenue in a year’s time.
Here is Zach Epstein from BGR:
So, just to reiterate one last time and let it really sink in, Apple Watch sales totaled about $6 billion in its first year of existence. Meanwhile, the world’s foremost luxury watch brand did $4.5 billion in sales across its entire product portfolio last year. In fact, the combined sales of all top Swiss watch makers totaled roughly $20 billion in 2015, so Apple is nearly one-third of the way there after just one year.
But that aside, anecdotally speaking, I see people wearing Apple Watch all the time but outside of tech events, catching anyone with something from the Android Wear camp is like finding a unicorn. Why Android Wear has been such a dud is its own article but what I’ll say is this – Sony has received flak for not bringing to market SmartWatch 4 and getting out of businesses but decisions like this are why the company is able to chug forward. In hindsight, you could argue that Sony should have never gotten into wearables but once Sony saw the data from the greater market that these wearables in their current state were not selling, exiting the market, though they’ve never formally announced it, was a great decision.
The Sony of the past would continue to stick around in a market that wasn’t viable or one that they could never gain any traction in, but today’s Sony is wiser about such endeavors and makes their decisions based less on pride and more on logic and we as fans of the company are better off. For every dollar not spent on chasing markets like wearables, Sony can better invest in PlayStation, TV, and/or Xperia.
As a sidebar, Sony is not completely done with wearables. Just check out their latest effort, the FES Watch U. Do you think Android Wear is mostly dead now and where do you stand on wearables? Do you like them or think something else like Xperia Ear will replace them?