More proof smartwatches are not a thing as Apple Watch sales stall

Lynsey Barber
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Apple Previews Its New iWatch
Even ardent Apple fans are cooling towards its smartwatch (Source: Getty)

Is that the sound of the death of smartwatches we hear?

2015 may have been the year of the much-hyped device - 2016 is certainly not.

Smartwatch shipments declined for the first time ever, according to new data from analyst firm IDC, down by more than a third year-on-year.

Shipments in the second quarter of the year stood at 3.5m, a decline on the 5.1m shipped a year earlier, and the Apple Watch could be to blame.

Read more: These are the new features coming to your Apple Watch

As the biggest driver of the smartwatch hype - and sales - last year, there has been little development to spur those sales forward.

"Consumers have held off on smartwatch purchases since early 2016 in anticipation of a hardware refresh, and improvemnets in WatchOS are not expected until later this year, effectively stalling existing Apple Watch sales," said IDC analysts Jitesh Ubrani.

Some 1.6m Apple Watch devices were shipped in the quarter, compared to 3.6m the same time last year - that's a drop of 55 per cent.

"Apple still maintains a significant lead in the market and unfortunately a decline for Apple leads to a decline in the entire market," said Ubrani.

Read more: Apple just dropped the price of the Apple Watch

Smartwatches might not be a thing in 2016 after a lot of talk last year, but it may just have been a false start.

IDC expects the market to return to growth in 2017, however, as the nascent technology develops further and traditional watch makers get involved - as long as the companies making them do better.

"Every vendor faces similar challenges related to fashion and functionality, and though we expect improvements next year, growth in the remainder of 2016 will likely be muted," Ubrani added.

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