During the final quarter of last year, shipments of smartwatch devices across the globe have outpaced shipments of Swiss watches, according to information provided by market research firm Strategy Analytics just this week. This marks the first time that smartwatches have surpassed Swiss watches in terms of worldwide shipment volume. Big credit, of course, goes to the Apple Watch, the first and only wearable device produced by Apple so far. Ever since the device’s release back in April of last year, it has led smartwatch sales all over the world by a clear mile.
There is also growing evidence that while the popularity of smartwatch devices is starting to increase, the demand for Swiss watches appears to be on the decline. Indeed, just as shipments of smartwatches have increased a whopping 316 percent in the fourth quarter of 2015, shipments of Swiss watches have dropped 5 percent during the same period.
This is partly because the manufacturers of Swiss watches themselves have not fully embraced wearable technology yet, preferring instead to stick to old school charms. However, it seems that buyers of watches now do not mind owning a device that not only tells time, but also takes voice calls, views emails, and monitors health and fitness data.
According to Neil Mawston, the executive director of Strategy Analytics, the Swiss watch industry has been slow to react, and perhaps even in a sort of state of denial regarding the impact of smartwatch devices. In fairness to Swiss watch makers, it was easy to underestimate smartwatches because these devices have been here for a while but they never seem to catch on with consumers. However, everything changed when Apple released its smartwatch device.
Of course, not all Swiss watch makers are burying their heads in the sand. Tag Heuer, for once, seemed to have realized that if you can’t beat ‘em, you might as well join ‘em. In November of last year, the popular watchmaker brand released its Connected Watch, which runs on Google’s Android Wear operating system for wearable devices.
As for the other Swiss watch makers, it is not over until it is over. But they need to act now. As predicted by market research firm Gartner earlier this month, sales of smartwatch devices around the world are expected to increase from 30 million units in 2015 to 50 million units in 2016, and then possibly 66.7 million units next year.
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