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Smartwatches might get a lot of attention, but it’s important to remember they’re still a new product category, and not a real commercial force yet. Case in point: A new report from Canalys indicates that only 720,000 Android Wear devices were shipped after the platform launched in June, and those devices had the might of Google and some of the world’s biggest hardware makers behind them.
According to Canalys, which drew data from its internal quarterly market tracking service, the Motorola’s Moto 360 smartwatch was the “clear leader” among the six Android Wear smartwatches currently available. The report also noted that the round LG G Watch R performed significantly better than its squarer sibling.
Although 720,000 might seem like a large number, let’s put this in perspective: It really appears that mainstream consumers don’t want or don’t understand why they should want a smartwatch. It’s also worth noting that iPhone owners can’t use Android Wear devices, which eliminates a lot of potential customers.
Apple said recently it sold 34,000 iPhones per hour during the past quarter — which means it sold more iPhones on average in a single day than six different Android Wear smartwatches did in half a year. Pebble has sold 1 million smartwatches over the life of the company, including an estimated 600,000 units between last March and December, but remember, Pebble is a startup. It used to be a Kickstarter and it didn’t get revealed at Google’s annual developer’s conference.
Also consider that the Canalys numbers measure units shipped, not units sold. It’s possible there are a few Samsung Gear Live smartwatches languishing on Best Buy shelves waiting for a clearance sale.
The smartwatch market will change markedly once Apple enters it in earnest. Nobody really knows how many smartwatches Apple is going to sell when Apple Watch launches sometime this April. Estimates range from a few million in its first year all the way up to 30 million units shipped in 2015. Apple inspires such dedication that there are going to be people who purchase — even line up for — Apple Watch, regardless of features, performance, or reviews, and this latest data point indicates it’s very possible that there will be more Apple Watches sold in its first day of availability than the total number of smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear platform.