iWatch may be make or break for wearable tech

(Photo: Fuse Chicken)

(Photo: Fuse Chicken)

As the first new product line launched under Tim Cook, most people realize how significant the iWatch is going to be for Apple. But research firm ABI Research thinks it’s also going to be make or break for the wearables market.

Crunching figures, ABI points out that “smartwatch” shipments for the first quarter of 2014 was an unimpressive 510,000 units — with the top four players being Samsung, Sony, Pebble and Casio. ABI suggests that users are holding off on picking up wearables until the launch of the iWatch.

Despite some good feedback for devices like Motorola Mobility’s Moto 360, non-Apple vendors are reportedly placing only limited orders for wearables due to their uncertainty over demand. With popular smartphone brands like Samsung and LG botching their entry into the smartwatch market, it is up to Apple to show everyone how it is done.

ABI seems to have faith that Apple can do it, though, on account of the brand’s strong demand thanks to its large and loyal consumer group. At the same time, if the iWatch fails to achieve good sales, ABI notes that this is likely to have a drastic impact on the industry’s future. To paraphrase Star Wars, “Save us, Apple, you’re our only hope!”

Apple is set to release its long-anticipated iWatch later this year, most likely in October. USB analyst Steven Milunovich previously predicted that the iWatch could match sales of the iPad — selling 21 million units in fiscal 2015, and a further 36 million units the following year. Seeing as smartwatches are currently shipping just 2.2 million units per year all told, this would mark a seismic increase.

  • Duncan Hill

    This is where the whole “apple doesn’t innovate” thing is nonsense. The vast majority of the smartphone market was invented by Apple in the first place, and there is only so much that one can do with a smartphone and thus only a certain amount of innovation that is even possible. Granted other phones can do as much if not more than iPhones now, but the ‘innovation’ in these areas by other companies tends to be fairly peripheral in nature. It’s going to be interesting to see what Apple actually do, and how many hours/days/weeks it is before samsung releases a carbon copy and Google adapt android to do the same thing.

    • Jivester

      You speak as if Apple were the first to bring wearables to the market… Might I remind you if announcements and actual hardware from last week. Also, as an Apple fan, I’m very nervous that Apple won’t have the killer app that Android Wear will have…. Google Now. Apple will likely have the best looking watch which will help. They will also have the best sensor data. But Google Now is incredible and tough to imitate.

      • Andy Shorrock

        May I remind you Apple didn’t invent the portable flash-based music player or the smartphone…

      • Jivester

        So are you implying that my caution is not needed?

      • Justin Hahnel

        The first iPod had a hard drive, and of world-class size. How many songs could you store on your 32mb River? God I hate Apple haters.

      • Jivester

        Are you implying I am a hater? Because I am nervous about this new hardware watch. My comment was fair, I hate Apple zealots, just as much as I hate Apple haters. God forbid I say something constructive and not worshipping about Apple.

    • Justin Hahnel

      Admit it or not, the world’s tech companies look to Apple for it’s next release, so they can steal, copy and deny. When Walter Isaacsons biography of Steve Jobs came out, there was a quote from Jobs saying he’d ‘finally nailed the TV’. Within weeks, Samsung crapped themselves and rushed to market the ‘Smart TV’ complete with webcam. Sales were crap. Next there were rumors that Apple was working on a smart watch. Again, Samsung crapped themselves and released the embarrassing ‘Gear’. Not even close. There were also rumors in the media of health based sensors on Apple’s ‘imaginary’ iWatch. At the same time, Apple released the 5S with TouchID. What did we see Samsung do? Release the Galaxy S5 with not only a fingerprint scanner (not Touch based, but swipe based. Why? No innovation, just an existing, copied idea), but also a heart rate monitor on the back. Were Samsung trying to up Apple one, on a pre-release? Samsung have everything to worry about, and they know it. Their devices are cheap, plastic pieces of junk with, you guessed it, a copied OS from Google on all their devices. They cannot innovate. They steal, copy, deny, repeat. At WWDC2014, Apple announced a Home Control system. I can guarantee that within 6 months, Samsung will announce their release of a two-bit, Google copied Android answer. Pathetic. Apple products, even though overpriced compared to the market, are the world leader, and they SELL. It doesn’t matter what Sam-dung does, there will always be the Apple haters. They will always defend the undefendable.

      • Robert Trance

        Now i was thinking that should or could i add to this list something, but not really much, besides that majority of Apple products today are not anymore the most expensive, especially comparing the price to the amazing quality and services. These days there are higher priced devices if we look at the premium segment of other ecosystems (Windows laptops, all-in-ones, smartphones in android world).

      • http://www.martian-imperium.com/ Lokifish Marz

        LOL.
        Fingerprint scanner unlock- Moto Atrix (Apple then bought the sensor company)
        Android based smartwatches- Been around since 2012
        Home Control- Been running a media server, site server,smart home control hub since 2012, on a Android device.

      • Justin Hahnel

        AGAIN.
        Finger print SCANNER unlock (unlike TouchID).
        Android based smartwatches (AGAIN, since the Apple rumours of 2011)
        Home Control (We’re looking at complete home automation here, not just remotes and dodgy servers).
        The FACT is, Samsung can’t innovate. They hear rumors in the industry, crap themselves and release a two-bit attempt.

        I’m not an Apple fanboy, I just value innovation above all else, and despise fraudulent attempts to copy a market leader, whether a product has been released, or if there are mere rumors about it.

        Read above before commenting.

      • http://www.martian-imperium.com/ Lokifish Marz

        Samsung is not Android. Just because Sammy follows does not mean the same goes for all of Android.

        Moving from scanner to touch is a predicable progression of the tech. That’s why dual to quad gets a yawn from me. Higher ppi displays, same thing. VGA to HDMI to MHL to wireless on mobile devices, utterly predictable. Moore’s Law but adopted and applied to all tech makes almost every single “innovation” boring and expected.

        Complete? Do you mean like light bulbs, wall switches, outlets and thermostats. Already been done on Android. But if you want to push it even further. Mine also runs fully integrated Ubuntu as well. When it’s not serving media and websites it has yet to crash or require a reboot.

        Not every company releases devices based on Apple rumors and rumors are not innovation, devices are.

  • Matthew Sanabria

    Well this article is just a bunch of bullshit. Make or break the wearables market? Yeah right. If Apple releases something first, they are innovating. If Apple releases something second, they are innovating. Yes smart watches aren’t selling right now, namely Android Wear devices because the OS isn’t even fully releases yet. The only people who bought an Android Wear device as of late were developers who are updating their apps to run on Android Wear. Apple products are great I wouldn’t deny that, but to say that everything they do makes or breaks the market is just ignorant.

    • Robert Trance

      However from Google recent I/O announcements, we DO KNOW what to expect from the first two Wear devices: Moto 360 and Samsung Live Wear, and from the software, we exactly saw what is coming on 7th of July, which is not much from Android Wear. Thus, we can say, IF Apple is coming at the near end of this year with their own, especially if with the planned 10 sensors and more features, they can make this category really shine (as they did with computers, phones, tablets). After every couple of years, sometimes, they tend to show how to make things on the right way, after others failed. History showed

      • Matthew Sanabria

        Right…from the first two wear devices. Why are you assuming that every single wear device will have the exact same features. They will update it over time as everything else is. Who’s to say by October Google won’t have another watch out that has more advanced features? This is the one thing that I hate about Apple fans. They are so open minded to everything Apple yet closed minded to everything else. Yes the iWatch will be pretty cool, but where is it? You guys are talking about a product that does not even exist yet.

      • Robert Trance

        You know, this is an Apple news site, so you can expect having here people around with more trust in Apple’s track record and future development than Android, you should keep in mind. Second, you start a conversation here, so there is a chance an answer will arrive (formulated with a more chilled, cooled down head, just I did :-) ). And Samsung isn’t a company i would trust with great design and software support, Moto…hmmmm….that one tends to be up and down, while Google…you never can be sure about what they bring and what they just will cut off suddenly. And when you enter a new product category, the first one or two devices with the new platform/software and design are crucial: people hardly forget that, they are showcases, so should be well developed considering they work on Wear for quite a while and they saw how earlier smartwatch tries failed miserably (Peebles, Samsung Gear series, and whatnot) and quickly! Yet, 25th of June, they come with a bulky Samsung Wear Live, and a medicre 360 Moto….with not much more functions than earlier devices to be frank. So yes, that is why we anticipate iWatch

      • Matthew Sanabria

        We will see what happens. Samsung can go die honestly because they stopped being great after the S3. HTC, LG, or someone has to step it up to keep Android up there. I’m just saying that this article is already calling the iWatch innovating when it hasn’t even been announced. People buy what other people buy. That’s the sad truth.

      • Robert Trance

        I can tell you I am completely agreed on your Samsung sentiment, they become the company spitting out massively the 1000st of the same crap all over again, while they have not much thought about taste and support, so that is a no-go! HTC and LG are different cookie from time to time, there are chances in those houses, although being honest with you i am not too overly curious about android devices, i own an Apple-home, so to speak, so logically I am eager to see and wait for new Apple developments: confirming, not because others in my circles might have Apple, but because for myself extremely convenient and comfortable, while, hey shoot me: beautiful too :-D
        Of course, agreed, very early to try to project facts in articles, maybe assumptions, leaks at best. But folks’ anticipations are high when something great is expected to near and a next keynote is just 3 months away, human nature

      • Matthew Sanabria

        Very true. I type these comments on a Macbook Pro Retina. I am not biased to any device. I like Apple, Microsoft, Google. I love to try new things and experiment. I just wish people would be more open minded to things, like you are. I watch all the Keynotes from companies. Only time will tell. As far as Android is concerned I’m glad Google is trying to fix it as much as they can.

      • Robert Trance

        I am open minded since my 11th, when started with computing, as i went through ALL stairs of machines and early “ecosystems” (or, just systems) from ZX Spectrum to today’s. I owned from all camp devices: MS, droid, Apple, and i simply found out where is my place to stay, and i still follow keynotes of ALL camps. Hell, it is fascinating. You cannot have all people truly openminded, grouping/camp froming belongs to human psych, terribly simple. I even have a linux box desktop, hidden in a room, for following things. Google might try to fix Android’s problem, but their biggest issue will remain with the different thinking of many, too many, manufacturers of devices, and in some countries: carriers!

      • Robert Trance

        Btw, Macbook Pro rocks ultimately!! :-)

      • Jivester

        Trust is one thing, I expect to have a constructive conversation about Apple on an Apple site, oh well.

      • Robert Trance

        You terribly confuse polite and non-hating conversations with circle jerks, plus, my comments above, the longer ones have been definitely better for a conversation than your entering. With simple words, you already started as an asshole…

      • Jivester

        Why don’t you reread all my comments before you call me an asshole.

      • Robert Trance

        I do not need to reread all your comments, only the one previous has been addressed to me, let’s cite: ” Trust is one thing, I expect to have a constructive conversation about Apple on an Apple sight, it doesn’t HAVE to be a circle jerk. ”
        You see where you went wrong?!
        And no, i’m not a know-it-all person, in fact, no one can claim he/she knows it all, but may express observations and opinions

      • Jivester

        like I said

  • http://www.martian-imperium.com/ Lokifish Marz

    I love how not only this article but even the linked source does not have ANY actual info from ABI. Nice going!

  • Guest

    I have personally hated Samsung ever since their S3 ad made fun of Apple users. It is one thing to make fun of products and poke a bit of fun at them, but another thing to openly insult people who use them. I find it wrong.

    Regarding the iWatch, there’s one thing we all forget. A watch is one of the few devices where looks are ABSOLUTELY as important as function. Phones and tablets need not be beautiful but a watch has to be. In that department, I trust Johny Ive completely. He has great taste and hence, if not anything else, the iWatch will definitely be good looking.

    • Jivester

      Right, because Apple has never made fun of users from a different os! Get a life and stop being blind. I don’t give a shirt if you like one over the other, just don’t do it for stupid hypocritical reasons.

About the author

Luke DormehlLuke Dormehl is a UK-based journalist and author, with a background working in documentary film for Channel 4 and the BBC. He is the author of The Formula: How Algorithms Solve All Our Problems, And Create More and The Apple Revolution, both published by Penguin/Random House. His tech writing has also appeared in Wired, Fast Company, Techmeme, and other publications. He'd like you a lot if you followed him on Twitter.

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