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The smartwatch market is dead, but Apple can save it

Published Feb 25th, 2015 3:35PM EST
Apple Watch News

When rumors that Apple was developing a smartwatch began circulating a few years ago, a number of competitors, in an effort to beat Apple to the punch, began releasing smartwatches of their own at a rapid clip. Samsung in particular proved to be extremely fond of this strategy, having released a number of varying smartwatches in just a few years time.

Now comes word that the smartwatch market Apple is poised to enter come April is ripe for a classic Apple takeover. With seemingly little competition, you might even say that the smartwatch market is Apple’s to lose.

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According to information recently obtained by AppleInsider, 6.8 million smartwatches were sold in 2014 with an average selling price of $189. Those are weak numbers no matter how you look at it.

Unsurprisingly, the market leader was Samsung, which has taken something of a shotgun approach in the smartwatch market, releasing multiple models and even multiple platforms. Smarwatch Group estimates that Samsung’s Gear lineup saw 1.2 million units shipped in 2014.

The second most popular smartwatch platform, in terms of unit sales, was Pebble, which shipped an estimated 700,000 devices in 2014. But Pebble’s low-end strategy also gave it just 7 percent of the dollars earned in the smartwatch space, placing it behind Lenovo’s Moto 360 lineup (10 percent) and LG’s wearable devices (7 percent).

Google’s Android Wear also hasn’t been doing extraordinarily well either. Most recently, reports have indicated that 720,000 Android Wear smartwatches shipped in 2014.

That said, the smartwatch market is Apple’s for the taking, both in terms of market share and profits. Note that the base price of the Apple Watch is $349 is already almost double the average selling price of all smartwatches sold during the last year. Rumor has it that the the stainless steel models will retail in the $500 range while some reports have suggested that the gold Apple Watch models might be priced as high as $10,000.

For the device’s first run, the Wall Street Journal reports that Apple ordered approximately 5-6 million units. If Apple manages to sell them all — and the company typically has a good grasp of supply and demand — it will quickly become the bona-fide smartwatch market leader.

While it remains to be seen if the Apple Watch will become a bona-fide hit, Apple is better positioned than most to succeed in a market that hasn’t exactly taken the world by storm. By leveraging an already robust iOS ecosystem, not to mention an installed base of passionate iPhone users, Apple has all the tools in place to resurrect a sluggish wearables market, much in the same way the iPad in 2010 resurrected a tablet market that was previously DOA.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.