Next Year Could Be the Year of the Smartwatch
Is 2017 the year of the smartwatch? Technology companies sure hope so. Amid sluggish smartwatch sales in 2016, companies are hoping new models and the expansion of Android-compatible devices will turn things around in the new year.
Slumping Smartwatch Sales
According to eMarketer, smartwatch sales rose by about 25 percent in 2016. This is far from the 60 percent the group originally predicted.
For 2017, eMarketer predicts smartwatches will reach 15.8 percent of the U.S. population, or about 39.5 million people. That number is only expected to grow to 21.1 percent of the population by 2020.
The reason for the sluggish sales? Smartwatches have failed to move beyond early adopters and demonstrate benefit over fitness trackers like FitBit and Garmin products.
“Without a clear use case for smart watches—which have more features than fitness trackers, but significant overlap with smartphone functionality—the more sophisticated, expensive devices have not caught on as quickly as expected,” said eMarketer analyst Cathy Boyle.
Despite those numbers, Google is preparing to launch not one, but two watches in the first quarter of 2017.
The watches will not be manufactured by Google, but will be similar to the company’s partnership with Nexus to produce a smartphone. The new models will include Android Wear 2.0, which will link features like Android Pay and Google Assistant, a voice activated Google search.
The exact release date has not been set, but is expected early in 2017. Existing Android watches will also be able to upgrade to Android Wear 2.0.
Apple Watch 2
Apple launched the Apple Watch Series 2 earlier this year just in time for holiday shopping. Unlike its predecessor, the Apple Watch 2 can be used for swimming workouts. This puts it on par with other water-resistant fitness trackers.
The watch also has a built-in GPS. This feature allows users to navigate or work out without being tethered to their phones. Again, this brings the Apple Watch in line with GPS-enabled fitness trackers that have been on the market for years.