The first smartwatches running Google’s Android Wear software began shipping in 2014. But in the grand scheme of things, not all that many of them actually shipped.

A report from research firm Canalys finds that about 4.6 million smart wearable wristbands shipped last year, and only about 720 thousand of them ran Android Wear.

moto 360

Of those that did, the Moto 360 was at the top of the food chain, with the LG G Watch R (with a round watch face) outperforming the original, square G Watch.

Rival Pebble is doing about as well as any smartwatch maker, having shipped a total of about a million units since the company’s products started shipping — but Pebble had a head start, having launched its first products in 2013.

Samsung, meanwhile, offers a wide range of of smartwatches including models with Android Wear. But most of the company’s smartwatches run an operating system based on Tizen Linux.

Other device makers are taking a different approach by offering wearable fitness trackers with basic smartwatch features such as the ability to display notifications for incoming calls on your smartphone. Canalys reports that Fitbit remains the leader in that space, but that Chinese company Xiaomi shipped more than a million units of its Mi Band, a low-cost wearable that’s predominantly sold in China.

Smart wearables will probably never have the same kind of market saturation as smartphones as long as they’re companion devices to phones. They’ll only appeal to people looking for accessories to their primary mobile device. But if the numbers from Canalys are accurate, it looks like either the product category isn’t nearly as popular as device makers had been hoping… or that we’re still in the early days of the wearable space and that we’re still waiting for the iPod or iPhone of the wearable space: something that will take a niche product category and truly popularize it.

Whether it will be the upcoming Apple Watch that does that remains to be seen: Apple’s first wearable is expected to be one of the most expensive options in this space. But it has a few interesting features including support for Apple Pay, which will let users tap their phones a the checkout aisle in many retail locations instead of removing cash from their wallet (or tapping smartphone).

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6 replies on “Canalys: 720 thousand Android Wear devices shipped in 2014”

  1. Apple will sell more watches than rest of market on day one….. Sadly. I don’t know how people are so brainwashed. My phone cost me $350 and my lg g watch was $80.

  2. Actually – the competition were selling far more than the iphone (even the 2009 Nokia 5230 alone sold 150 million, with Symbian itself outselling IOS for its lifetime). And most of the explosive growth that took us from niche to today’s mainstream came from Android. (See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smartphone#Historical_sales_figures.2C_in_millions for the painful truth.) Not to mention the first iphone wasn’t really a smartphone (couldn’t even run apps), so it’s like Apple releasing a touchscreen Casio watch and claiming they’ve popularised smartwatches. [Usually when I point it out, some Apple zealot will try to back pedal to say something like “it was the first that had arbitrary cherry picked features that I liked” – sorry, I’m not interested in personal preferences, I’m just pointing facts about market share history.]

    Although I’m sure the Apple watch will go the same way – no matter how much or little it sells, the mainstream media will falsely crown it number one, give it vast amounts of coverage even before it’s released, and claim it a major success.

    As for Android Wear, well consider – Apple ships 3.3 million out of 109 million, last place behind even Windows Mobile and Palm (and that’s not even including all of the “feature phones” which the iphone was more of, as it couldn’t even run apps; these devices aren’t included in the stats). That’s 3% share, and they’re branded a runaway success. Android Wear ships 0.72 million out of 4.6 million – over 15% share, and it’s portrayed as a failure!

    720 thousand is a reasonable start for such a new market, especially when the major current usage seems to be fitness, so you’ve got all the fitness bands like fitbit being included.

    Indeed, I didn’t even think you can run apps on things like the fitbit and pebble, in which case, it seems odd to include them as the same kind of thing as smartwatches (so they’re electronic – so is my £15 Casio). Seems odd that the phone market got split into “smart”, “feature” and “dumb” (despite the distinction between the first two being very fuzzy), whilst the smart watch is having all sorts of other things lumped into it. No wonder Android Wear’s share seems smaller (how about we compare Apple iphone sales in 2007 to the total mobile phone market…)

    I can tap my phone without tapping my smartphone? Not sure I understand 🙂 I can already tap my credit card, which is easier and cheaper.

  3. I’ve seen these numbers widely reported with kind of a negative slant. Given how late in the year Android Wear devices actually were selling and their relativley high cost compared to a lot of other ‘smart band’ choices I think 720k in a 4.6M base is pretty damned impressive. Especially given how Google is happy to roll things out slowly. A lot of the features have only become available in the last couple months or so.

    I’m sure Apple Watch will sell rings around Android Wear when it hits. At least at first. However I expect the high expectations of Apple’s name on something are going to lead to quite dashed hopes. I don’t think it will sell in anything like the numbers Apple is used to with products. And I think, rightly or not, Tim Cook will be taken to task for the apparent relative failure. It will be portrayed as his first big product in the post Jobs era and that it didn’t do as well as other Apple devices like iphone and ipad have.

    I also expect a lot of negative reviews for usability and battery life. General media tone of it not being ‘perfected’ like many previous Apple devices are hilariously portrayed as upon launch.
    In short it will do very well for what it is but fall noticeably short of the Apple mythos. And Cook will be taken to task for it.
    Meanwhile, after early beatings Android Wear will mature and take a market share dominant position over the course of a year or two.

      1. I don’t think that works either but you could just say units numbers or market size.
        Market saturation depends on TAM (or SAM even). For any product you need to define what the market is and it’s size. If you compare beer and pacifiers , it doesn’t make sense to say ” pacifiers will probably never have the same kind of market saturation as beer”, the markets are different. Market saturation is a % of the total available market but for diff products the markets are different.
        Sorry not trying to be an a$$, just noticed the error and pointed it out.

        As for the actual topic,i’ve said many times here that the products are for from good enough so i won’t go on that rant again but ,in the end, chances are that all watches will be more or less smart at some point so the question is how many people will still wear one. You could also have shape shifting glasses that you wear on your wrist when you take them off your nose but that’s some years away.

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