back to article Watch it Apple: time has come for cheaper rivals' strap-ons

Apple Watch started 2016 on a losing streak, ceding market share* to a range of cheaper rivals. Q1 is a hangover quarter across the entire consumer electronics sector, and particularly in wearables, which can be expected to suffer a post-Christmas slump. Strategy Analytics has estimated that Apple shipped 2.2 million in Q1 …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Data snarfing my vital signs is coming.

    How long until I start seeing ads for Metformin everytime I eat a Mars bar?

    1. BillG

      Re: Ugh

      Ugh for battery life, the Apple Watch requires daily charging, unless you actually use the thing in which case it needs charging two or more times a day.

      Feedback I've gotten from bartenders is that iPhone people lean over the bar and ask for a charger much more often than Androids.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ugh

        My 6s plus easily lasts me two days, sometimes three if I don't happen to talk much. That's with maybe 90 minutes of active use each day for apps, texting, etc. People who are addicted to their phone and constantly have their face buried in it will need daily or more than daily charging no matter what kind of phone they have.

  2. Bloodbeastterror

    “a category waiting for a market”

    "A solution looking for a problem".

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: “a category waiting for a market”

      Actually, it's a category that aims to be the solution to real problems, but so far the implementations are not quite there.

      Being able to 'page' a phone to find it - useful. Quick check of notifications - useful. Programmable function key to activate a phone function (e.g dictaphone) - useful. None of which require a colour screen or heavy power draw.

      The Apple watch, to my taste, tries to do too much.

      Citizen and Casio come closest in my book - the Citizen just looks like a analogue-handed 'sports' watch. A touch too brash in its styling for me, but it looks just like a normal watch.

      Still, it is subjective. Some people on the Reg don't see the point in even having a conventional watch - and if they wake up next to an alarm clock, drive to work (dashboard clock) and sit at a computer (desktop clock) - I won't disagree with them.

      1. graeme leggett Silver badge

        Re: “a category waiting for a market”

        "next to an alarm clock, drive to work (dashboard clock) and sit at a computer (desktop clock) - I won't disagree with them."

        For me, I also have clock on the telephone on my desk, one on the wall over to my left, my mobile phone is displaying the time while charging. Between all those and my colleagues that leave work at set times before me, I haven't needed a timepiece on my wrist as well to note the passing of the hours.

  3. Michael Habel

    Samsung's making an iWatch? Or just another Bluetooth generic Wearable, that'll be somewhat compatible with iFruit thingies? Or are we about to see the first Samsung iOS powered Device?

    1. Gordon 10

      On the assumption you aren't trolling - its about making the Gear 2 smartwatch connect to iPhones. nothing else.

      Its a rather good watch imo - looked seriously at getting one but lack of adoption of Apps such as Strava and Map My <enter exercise> put me off.

      Functionally it seems a cut above both Apple Watch and Android Gear but is let down by lack of App adoption. UI in particular is well thought out.

      1. Michael Habel

        So its the second Option... Well if I needed that there are plenty of 20$ Chinese watches on Fleebay that could do the same.

  4. Naselus

    Dunno why they made this piece discuss Apple so much tbh. The entire wearable market only ever really existed in Marketing's head and is rapidly collapsing into niche bling for fitness fanatics, regardless of if it's iTat, Droid or Microsoft running on it.

    A grand total of 4 million sales, half of them for devices which ultimately amount to accessories for the iPhone (with iPhones themselves a very small and shrinking minority of the smartphone market outside the US) is a sure sign that wearables of any stripe are about as must-have as a monogrammed walrus polishing kit.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Have an upvote for the Red Dwarf reference!

      However, I do see a lot of fitness trackers on the wrists of people on the street. So maybe niche, but not too rare. I might take small issue with 'fitness fanatics' - they have been using dedicated heart-rate monitors for years - because I get the impression that many of these fitness trackers are worn by people hoping to wear to lose a few pounds.

      On the other hand, I've only seen four Apple Watches 'in the wild' since its release.

      1. To Mars in Man Bras!

        Rare Breeds

        "...On the other hand, I've only seen four Apple Watches 'in the wild' since its release..."

        I've seen more Windows Phones in the wild than I have Apple Watches.

        Admittedly, the total sample is pretty small, given the figures are one and zero, respectively.

      2. Sooty

        "I get the impression that many of these fitness trackers are worn by people hoping to wear to lose a few pounds."

        Which is exactly the market they aimed for. They went for reasonably priced devices that everyday people would buy on whim, pretty much just to see how active they are day to day. Mostly thinking it will give them a bit of a push to do more exercise.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward


      "a very small and shrinking minority of the smartphone market outside the US"

      OK. I'll bite. Could you provide a reference please?

      And a definition of "minority" which somehow suits your purpose.

      iPhones seem to be doing well everywhere in the developed world. As a single manufacturer, Apple have a healthy market share for smartphones. The market is big.

      1. Lee D Silver badge

        Re: @naselus

      2. Naselus

        Re: @naselus

        Do you think <15% of something is not a minority of it?

        iPhone does very, very well in the Anglosphere - close to 50% of UK and US smartphones are iPhones. But in Europe and Asia, not so much; in Germany, for example, iPhone market share is little higher than Windows Phone. In most of Europe, it's <20%. In much of Asia, and South America, it's around 10%.

        Once you take the US out of the figures, iPhone market share (and general iOS market share, in fact) has been declining for years. This is mostly because of the massive growth of the smartmobe market - Apple were able to keep breaking sales records and increasing absolute sales, while losing 10s of points of market share per year. Even the iPhone 6-driven mega-sales barely stalled the general trend; IIRC, Apple managed a massive 1% increase in Market share from their best-selling product ever.

        This isn't Apple-bashing - yes, I hate Apple, and yes, I'm honest about it - but simply a statement of fact. Apple do extremely well from selling extremely high margin items to a small and relatively wealthy market centered on the US. They do not do very well outside that area, but it's easy to forget that given the wall-to-wall press coverage telling us how fabulously Apple are doing and how enormous their profits are (driven by a 2-300% markup on items, compared to the commodity-level profit margins on droids or wintel PCs).

        The real problem for Apple is that this is basically the exact same strategy that they followed back in the 80s with personal computers; they were very heavily dependent on a single product category, they were very dependent on a couple of markets, and they were charging huge markups at the expense of market share. We all know how that turned out in the end. It's noticeable that the strategy worked for Jobs, who tended to milk a market and then move on before it went commodity; whenever anyone else has been in charge of the fruity firm, they've lacked his agility and instinct for getting out of product X before the bottom drops out of the market.

  5. BigAndos

    I actually quite like the look of the Chronos. It is a bluetooth module that clips on the back of your regular watch and can be set to vibrate if you get a call etc. Also, the battery lasts a few days. Not exactly vital but I'm forever missing calls /texts while phone is in my pocket.

    That is pretty much the only function of an iWatch I would like, and the Chronos plans to do it for $90 on preorder - much cheaper! I may well make an order if I have some money to burn at any point.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Thank you mentioning the Chronos. If could be made cheap enough - which it could be if it there was enough demand - people could buy two, and swap one for the other when the battery is flat.

      Casio and Citizen also make Bluetooth watches, with 1 year plus and indefinite battery lives respectively. But hey, neither look as good as a 1969 Omega Chronostop!

      1. BigAndos

        I didn't know about the Casio and Citizen watches, they actually seem like good products! Only annoyance is the Citizen only seems to work with iPhone. The Casio would work with my Android but some of them are pretty ugly. Still worth keeping an eye on developments. For me I genuinely believe getting notifications on your wrist is the only case for getting one of these at the moment, and if other companies are able to deliver this sole feature with better battery life and (for Chronos at least) lower cost than an iWatch / Gear watch.....

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          >Only annoyance is the Citizen only seems to work with iPhone.

          When it was first released, it, like the Casio, only worked with iPhones because Android didn't support Bluetooth Low Energy at that time (though a some Samsung handsets had the hardware).

          Sadly, there still appears to be no Android version - and a plea on XDA has gone unanswered. Maybe Citizen didn't sell enough of them, so haven't invested the time into an Android version?

  6. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    Too late to market...

    The only real proper application for these that I can see, other than simply being able to tell the time is for the sports & outdoor communities. Unfortunately for Apple, Samsung et al, they have been well and truly beaten to market (and functional use) by Garmin and Suunto, which incidentally, both of whoms devices mostly cost a lot less than the basic Apple watch.

    Please don't tell me that being able to read an email or txt on your watch is a killer app - because it's not; especially when, in the case of the Apple watch, it needs to be tethered to the bloody phone in the first place. When Apple release a watch that can do swim, bike, run and climb - at a hop, a skip and a jump, then I may take a look. At the moment however it looks as though Mssr Ive has been drinking in a bit too much of his own ego.

    There are a few here in my office that have the Apple watch. Most agree that it was a waste of money.

    1. Joe Harrison

      Re: Too late to market...

      It can be handy to read incoming messages on your watch; I am often in meetings where it's frowned upon to have your laptop open or doing things with your phone. You can somehow get away with looking at your watch though. Also walking through an unfamiliar town in the rain - turn-by-turn navigation is a lot more convenient using your watch.

      1. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

        Re: Too late to market...

        Really? You think both of those are worth the price Apple et al are shilling the watch for. Wow!!! No wonder they make so much money out of you iFools.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Too late to market...

          This was a nice thread until you came along with your ad hominem attack. Everyone was showing consideration for other's points of view, even if they didn't agree with them. Well done.

          Most of the people on this thread either don't wear a watch, or don't want a smartwatch to do as much as an Apple Watch - so its strange that you should feel threatened by one comment in support of it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Too late to market...

        "Also walking through an unfamiliar town in the rain - turn-by-turn navigation is a lot more convenient using your watch."

        As opposed to a waterproof phone with a decent sized screen? I have to do this in London from time to time, I can't imagine circumstances in which the watch would be better.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Too late to market...

          A watch on each wrist that buzzes when you have to make a turn. Ha!

          1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. daldred

          Re: Really?

          I can envisage - indeed know - areas where I'd be far more nervous about pulling my phone out at every junction than about getting a discrete buzz pattern on the wrist telling me I need to make a left or a right turn.

          Not that you need Apple prices for that. But then you don't need to pay Apple prices for any of the actual useful functionality Apple provide....

  7. To Mars in Man Bras!

    Not Ready For Prime-Time

    I think wearable tech is at about the same stage of development mobile phones were, when they were the size of a housebrick and came attached to a briefcase with an extending aerial.

    They'll be taken up by early adopters who "MUST HAVE!" the latest thing. But I suspect the majority insticntively know that, in a few years time, those giant watches are going to look about as cool and hi-tech as a man in polyester flares, chest wig and medallion, sporting a Zune –and are consequently holding off for a while, so as to avoid the hassle of having to delete all those embarrassing "You used to wear one of those?!!!" photos, some time around 2020*.

    [*as in the year. Not half-eight, by the smartwatch]

  8. Mage Silver badge

    Apple Watch.

    Purely a BT accessory for an iPhone. Even the strap costs more than competitors.

    Since most of cost of a phone is (a) screen based on size and (b) there is overhead of phone royalties the BT only Apple Watch ought to be less than $25 if it wasn't Apple and about $49 for an Apple model. I know Apple fans that had sold them on to unsuspecting "marks".

    It's a scam.

    The DZ09 is pretty poor, but still better value. It even works as GSM phone on its own and has about twice battery life of Apple model. About £12 / $16 because it's a bit obsolete and clunky. Camera is only 320 x 240 but it does take a Micro SD card, charge or connect (USB storage) via micro USB. The Alarms, BT remote (hands free if driving?) to regular phone and sound recording all work.

  9. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

    Compared to some other 'devices'

    selling 2 million in a quarter can't be regarded as a failure.

    You could take the Kin and the Zune as two examples of real failures.

    However as Apple have set the bar so high is seems that anything less than 100% of the market is a catastrophic if not calamitous/abject failure.

    IMHO, for a 1st gen device to have more than 50% of the market is still a romping success in my eyes especially as it is about a year since it was announced.

    Just to be clear, I'm not in the market for anything to be srtapped to my wrist, now or in the future so I say the above from the POV of a watcher and not a partipiant in the wearable market.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: 1st gen device to have more than 50%

      Purely because it's Apple and the market volume is so small. How many Apple fans are there that will buy ANY new kind of Apple product?

      I bet they could sell 2M Pippins too, today. Actually maybe more.

      The Apple Watch makes less sense than Apple TV (which is Apple centric video streaming and not a TV, a Roku is better. I'd not want the Google or Amazon ones either. Actually, given cost of subs and my BB quality I don't want any of them).

  10. the-it-slayer

    "The Watch itself is a capable but clumsy device"

    What? That doesn't make any sense. And the author probably hasn't used one. I really don't give a crap if I get down votes, but for someone who wasn't really that keen on the Apple Watch initially; it has many critical uses. Especially receiving info that doesn't require having to get the phone out in the first place and then drop it whilst on the go. Public transport timing, quick glances at news, prompts that other apps have done something, skipping music, changing radio stations etc.

    What do people expect it to do? Make them lunch? Also, 1st gen Apple products tend to be quite low-beat until they've worked out who are buying it, and for what purpose. Same with the original iPad. Same with the original iPhone. Let's not be ignorant to the past.

    Something very critical of Apple here I will say. They marketed it wrong. Going for the "fashion" sector initially after launch. Then retracting their ads back to health/fitness when the product came out. Of course loads of people are confused on what the Apple Watch is for and what it can do. The common person associates health/fitness products with Garmin/TomTom/FitBit. Apple are playing catch-up to get in that crowd where they normally get there first.

    As most Apple products do; they get aggressively better. Whether the Watch does or not, depends on the next software/hardware improvements and how much effort Apple want to make. These smart watches are held back by battery tech also in general. That's a criticism for them all. Same with most modern computer electronics that are not laptops (that have peaked out now for battery life).

    1. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: "The Watch itself is a capable but clumsy device" @the-it-slayer

      How would you address the pros and cons of this review then:

      1. the-it-slayer

        Re: "The Watch itself is a capable but clumsy device" @the-it-slayer

        On my first skim read of it, it sounds like a frustrating rant rather than a detailed list of pros and cons. The writer doesn't mention any handy/not-so-handy third party apps that do make the watch much more useful.

        Like the whole "you're holding it wrong" joke; I'd say to that writer he's "using it wrong". There are navigation problems sometimes and it isn't as natural; but Apple decided to use physical controls most people would be comfortable and used to on a watch. Third party apps aren't quite there in making Watch apps that are slick. There's a few I've come across that break normal smartphone app conventions that some are trying to apply to a very small screen. Then not making use of the crown.

        That's the problem of being a 1st gen Apple user. You have to bare the grudges. Then again, I read the article again and saw this statement...

        "Other than that, there’s really nothing fun about using the watch."

        It's not supposed to be a fun product. A watch has always been a functional device to help you organise yourself against other devices/functions (e.g. diary/calendar etc). If you don't use the calendar functions on the phone or third-party apps (e.g. Outlook - this is very good and Microsoft have done a very good job with their Apple Watch app); it's not going to be beneficial.

        The biggest plus for me is not having to get my phone out whilst on the move (e.g. walking to the station) to check stuff. An Apple Watch investment might save many people breaking their iPhone screens which is pretty common place!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    My view on it

    You have a watch, that needs to be tethered to the to be of any use.

    It can alert you to messages and phones, but so can the phone next to it. The screen is so small it's not a great medium to actually reply on.

    As a sports tracker, it's just to bloody expensive to get smacked about and needs an expensive phone next to it.

    So if I want to go for a run, play a sport, go swimming, somehow I have to lug £900 worth of fragile kit around, where you can pick up a good fitness tracker that does all that for almost a 1/10 of that.

    1. Darryl

      Re: My view on it

      Don't forget you're not going to do any of those things if you didn't remember to plug it in last night

  12. Dave 15

    Time to to Elop the watch then

    I mean, such a drop, must be a burning platform if ever there was one... do an Elop, get rid of it, hey, shut the whole company, I mean such a low market share must be a disaster.

    After that follow in Elops shoes to the next job.

  13. anoco

    My wearable gets plenty of use

    Disclaimer 1 - no, it's not an ifruit.

    Disclaimer 2 - I paid $50 for it. An OG LG G.

    What's used for.

    - Answering texts by voice. Fast and efficient. No need to grab phone from pocket.

    - Read and answer texts while driving. Not really driving, but when stopped in traffic.

    - Check and change the music on Pandora while I'm using a Bluetooth speaker.

    - Checking the time of day every few minutes to make sure I don't lose track of it!!!

    - Having chicks approach me to ask if it's an iwatch, just to be snubbed back when I say, no thanks I'm married..

    What's not good for.

    - Checking time without risking a wrist injury or using my nose when I'm wearing gloves.

    - Any of the other gimmicks that's supposed to do, specially the health/fitness tracking thingies. Horrible software implementation from Google.

    So for $50 this watch was well worth it. Got way more use than the other dumb watches I had. So, yes, if you don't usually wear a watch then it's pointless. But the way I see the problem is not a lack of market in general, as there are still a ton of people that like watches, the problem it's a lack of market for the price point they are being sold for.

    Putting a smartwatch down because it's a watch is dumb. Your fight is against watches in general, not smartwatches. Just like putting smartwatches down for being too expensive. The fight is against greedy marketeers in general, once they get to your price point you'll like smartwatches. If you have a warm nose...

  14. Sooty


    Someone needs to make a pipboy style phone that you can wear on your wrist all the time..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Android wear

    Have the steel Sony smartwatch3, and its superb, at just over s hundred notes, its a good bargain. 3 days between charges and with onboard GPS, can be just as useful untethered (eg on a run) where I can stick music on the watch and pair it to my BT headphones, nonphone needed at all, my run is tracked and I get tunes). None of the other Android wear watches offer this, nor the iwatch.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: Android wear

      Good to her that the Sony Smart Watch 3 is working well... Sony actually had a connected watch years, but their first attempt didn't receive great reviews (would too often lose connection, apparently).

      Another Sony gadget that makes some sense - and could be considered a 'wearable' - is their usb-stick-sized Bluetooth Headset. It can clip to your top like small MP3 players, and can be held to your ear to make calls or you can plug wired earphones into it, as you would a phone. It includes media controls, for playing back music from a phone, or can function as an FM radio independently of the phone. It also has a monochrome display for phone notifications. It makes sense for people with big phones, or for people whose phones live in the bottom of a bag.

      I'm not recommending it here - you can find your own reviews - but I'm mentioning it because it is curious that so much coverage and discussion of 'wearables' omits devices like this.

  16. Mr Marcus

    Not the end of the world

    Definitely not a fan of Apple here (my experience with their software - iTunes, QuickTime, Safari - has left me baffled as to why people c like their stuff) and I've always thought that their claims of innovation were massively inflated. However, their form factor is second to none and I believe that this is the basis of their success. Tablets have been around for ages but Apple waited until the technology allowed them to put it in a great-looking package. Same with the touch screen phone. And I loved my iPod Classic (and still do).

    So the iWatch is just wrong in my opinion. It's clunky and particularly ugly compared to standard mechanical watches that FL for the same price. There are no killer features and it has to be recharged daily. In my opinion Apple simply haven't waited until technology can match it's ambitions.

    I doubt Apple are too worried. One disappointing quarter does not equal a trend. And every other company in the world would be delighted with a quarter as 'bad' as this one. They have more money than Croessus, a rabidly loyal customer base and plenty of time to come up with their next 'magical' device.

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