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Android Wear Watch Sales Are Running Slow

April's introduction of the Apple Watch is expected to dramatically expand the market for smartwatches.


Google’s smartwatches aren’t exactly making time with consumers.

Researcher Canalys reports that 720,000 devices powered by Google’s Android Wear shipped in the last year, out of a total of 4.6 million smart wearable bands — an anemic start for this new category of devices. Analyst Chris Jones said the Android wearables suffer from poor battery life and software that was not tailored for the devices.

“It’s a stripped-down smartphone operating system,” Jones said. “It’s really about notifications and getting notifications from your phone on a small screen you wear on a band on your wrist.”

Google showcased the Android Wear devices at its June developer conference in San Francisco. The most stylish of these, Motorola’s Moto 360, with its nod to traditional watch design with a round face and leather band, emerged as the leading seller, according to Canalys. LG’s awkwardly named G Watch R also performed significantly better than the original G Watch.

“At the end of the day these are things people are going to want to wear,” Jones said. “They should add something to their lives. Be fashionable. There’s a lot to consider here. Some device makers have been guilty of throwing devices into the market to see what sticks.”

That’s apparently a reference to Samsung, which introduced no fewer than six devices in the last 14 months.

Consumers may well be sitting on the sidelines, awaiting April’s introduction of the Apple Watch. Many details remain unclear, including pricing for all three models and global availability, resulting in sales projections that are all over the map. Canalys forecasts Apple will sell some 16 million smartwatches in the first year.

Apple entry will doubtless pose challenges to early players in the smart wearable band business, including Kickstarter darling Pebble. The company shipped a total of one million units from its 2013 launch through the end of 2014, Canalys reports. Shipments accelerated through the holidays, as Pebble dropped its price by $50 and introduced Misfit, an app to track sleep and activity.

“It will be increasingly difficult for Pebble to keep going with the launch of the Apple Watch,” said Jones.

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