A report from research company Strategy Analytics showed that global smartwatch shipments reached 8.1 million units in the fourth quarter of 2015.
Strategy Analytics director Cliff Raskind said the burgeoning new watch category rose a “healthy” 316 per cent compared with the 1.9 million units recorded in fourth quarter of the previous year.
“Smartwatches are growing rapidly in North America, Western Europe and Asia,” he commented. “Apple Watch captured an impressive 63 per cent share of the global smartwatch market in Q4 2015, followed by Samsung with 16 per cent. Apple and Samsung together account for a commanding eight in 10 of all smartwatches shipped worldwide.”
Conversely, the report showed global Swiss watch exports were down 5 per cent on the previous year, declining from 8.3 million units in the fourth quarter of 2014 to 7.9 million units in the same period in 2015.
“Global demand for Swiss watches is slowing down, and major players like Swatch are struggling to find growth,” Strategy Analytics analyst Steven Waltzer stated.
Last month, Swatch Group released its full year report for 2015, which indicated a 3 per cent decline in watch and jewellery net sales as well as overall net sales compared with the previous year.
The results followed the release of the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry’s 2015 export report. According to the report, the Swiss industry recorded its first downturn since 2009, with the total value of watch exports declining 3.3 per cent compared with 2014.
Smartwatches on the rise
It was said the latest statistics from Strategy Analytics represented the first time that smartwatch shipments had outpaced Swiss watches on a global basis.
Strategy Analytics executive director Neil Mawston suggested this could partially be attributed to the Swiss watch industry’s slow response to the development of smartwatches.
“The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away,” he said. “Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 per cent of all smartwatches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are a long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category.”
Mawston noted that this trend would likely continue in 2016 and the years to follow.
“We forecast global smartwatch shipments to grow 60 per cent in 2016, while Swiss watches will fall 5 per cent this year,” he stated.
Mawston added that smartwatch sales were expected to more than double to 200,000 million units in Australia and New Zealand this year. He said Apple was currently the largest smartwatch vendor in Australia and New Zealand, followed by Samsung.
Strategy Analytics is an international research and consulting company. It is headquartered in Boston, USA and has offices across Europe and Asia.