Watch out for smartwatches as form factor gets ready for prime time
February 15, 2014 | 10:36 am
With data on smartwatches reported on often of late, it’s interesting to start seeing some numbers against all the buzz. According to a bulletin from International Data Group (IDG), smartwatch shipments worldwide hit 1.9 million units in 2013 for the first time, versus just a few hundred thousand units in 2012. Around 61 percent of the budding platform runs Android, according to Strategy Analytics. Much of the Android lead is attributed to Samsung’s Galaxy Gear, but in such a still limited market space, there is of course still plenty of chance for things to change.
“Android has several challengers in the smartwatch space, like Firefox and Pebble OS, but none of them are a major threat at this stage because of their relatively limited ecosystems and modest retail presence,” states IDG. “Instead, the main threat to Android’s smartwatch dominance will come from Apple, Microsoft and perhaps backers of Tizen or COS (China OS).”
IDG is predicting that the advent of an iWatch from Apple, if it happens, will be the catalyst for truly dynamic growth in the space. However, there are also plenty of good reasons for thinking that Android may continue its dominance, even as the smartwatch industry explodes. Android has already been far the preferred platform for diversity and multiplicity of devices. Standardization on an Apple design might help acceptance, but IDG also appears to think that price is still one major barrier to acceptance, and Android has also tended to lead on price-competitiveness as well.
Finally, one could also argue that Apple had a product verging on the smartwatch for years, in the shape of the iPod Nano, especially the sixth-generation version. It did nothing to develop it. If the smartwatch revolution does take off as IDG expects, then Apple could in fact be having to play catch-up, having already failed to build on leads in the space.