back to article Wearables sales slacken as the novelty wears off

Sales of wearable computers fell 6.9 percent year over year in the second quarter of 2022, according to analyst outfit IDC. While 107.4 million devices still made it out of the factory, IDC believes demand has been depressed by inflation, fears of a recession, and increased spending on other non-tech categories. The market …

  1. ecofeco Silver badge

    An $800 watch

    ..with a battery life of a few days.


    1. Joe W Silver badge

      Re: An $800 watch

      .. and a projected total lifetime of very few years...

      Paying that much for something that ends up in a landfill rather sooner than later? Nah, I'll pass. Same with the ridiculous smartphone prices. No, a phone that costs 500 quid is not "mid range" (ok, technically it is, if the top notch phone costs 1000 quid - a phone that does nothing vastly better than the less expensive one, I might add).

      1. The Dogs Meevonks Silver badge

        Re: An $800 watch

        The most I've ever paid for a 'smartphone' is £236 and for that I got a Motorola One almost 3yrs ago.

        2 OS updates and 3yrs of security updates gauranteed and delivered upon... A near vanilla android experience. Decent fingerprint reader, NFC, taller than average screen, 128GB storage + mSD card slot, dual sim (not if mSD card is used)

        Cannot fault it's reliability, it's not slow it's not plastic and cheap looking... there's no shitty overlay that ruins the experience and there's no baked in apps that cannot be uninstalled.

        It's basically nearly as good as a pixel device for less than half the cost.

        For the last 8 or 9 yrs I've bought all of my phones from Amazon warehouse deals. I've never had one that's damaged or even used... just open box. I pay on average 20-30% below retail prices and I keep them for around 2-3yrs unless they break.

        I've had a...

        Motorola G2 (given to my mum after about a year because it wasn't powerful enough for my needs and too low end for me), replaced with a Wileyfox Storm (great phone, fantastic privacy features, I miss that one. Replaced when battery started to bloat) ... next up a Motorola G5 which was a reasonable little phone.... Fixed the Wilefox with a new battery and gave it to my mum (she gets all my old phones)... Then picked up the Motorola One Vision towards the end of 2019 (gave mum the G5 which she's still using and is around 5yrs old now).

        I cannot fathom the mentality of people willing to spend 5x the price or more on a device that's no better than my current phone in real world usage... has less storage, and IO... all for the perceived status of owning an 'insert brand name here' phone/wearable.

        Sure... I like my tech stuff. And yes... I will spend extra on PC upgrades. But I tend to do a ground up rebuild of my PC's every 5yrs or so... It's smaller upgrades inbetween. But those PC parts get handed down to other family and friends. My old AMD FX system I got rid of 4-5yrs ago and replaced with a Ryzen 2600X (that now resides in my mediaserver) was given to a friend who is now using it as his mediaserver.... that FX8350 is close to 10yrs old and still being used.

        I built my current rig on an X570, 3800X 32GB DDR4 in April 2020... I've upgraded the storage and GPU... and will probably upgrade the CPU to a 5800X3D... But that's it until at least 2025.

        Wearables are a niche within a niche... and 107 million sold... that's about 1% of the worlds population... and like tablet sales, are falling of a cliff

        1. James Anderson

          Re: An $800 watch

          I can trump your 239 GBP I got a brand new Xiomi A1 for 199 euros four years ago. Its a google One phone so the software is up to date its fast light and good looking in plain black.

          Some people might think the camera under powered but I prefer a real camera for pics.

      2. NoneSuch Silver badge

        Re: An $800 watch

        But, but... The Logo!

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: An $800 watch

      I don’t think anyone really notices the battery life for most practical purposes. Just put it on charge while you are in the shower.

      Alternatively, you could buy a watch that just displays the current time while you sit all day at a computer with the time in the corner, or drive a car with the time on the dashboard. Then with your new watch you get an extra time to look at. You can cross check the time against all your other clocks.

      1. Richard Jones 1

        Re: An $800 watch

        Or check all those other clocks against your watch, as I and many others do. Mine is a far less than £800 item that has yet to be recharged or have its battery replaced. With a quick to read, correction mentally absorb, analogue display, it is so much faster to read than those slow read digital ones.

        1. doublelayer Silver badge

          Re: An $800 watch

          Your computer's clock set via NTP is probably more reliable than even a high-end precision watch. It all comes down to how often you want to know the time and whether you have a clock around then. I don't wear a watch because, when I want to know the time, I've usually got a clock available near me and I don't need it enough that taking out a phone to check its clock is a problem. Some others might feel similarly to me about knowing the time, but might value having speedy access to some other kind of information, where a smartwatch becomes useful.

          Why don't you use a phone to read the time? From your comment, I'm guessing it's related to the speed of glancing at your wrist. If someone wants that speed advantage with information related to fitness or notifications, that's where a smartwatch does make sense. I don't know where the stated price came from, but there are cheaper ones and people spend ridiculous sums on time-only watches too.

    3. Anonymous Coward

      Re: An $800 watch

      > SUCKERS!

      Wow! Octopus technology to keep it on your wrist without a strap! Where can I get one?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An $800 watch

      Depends what you need it for. First off, it costs half of that (or you've been swindled, of course), secondly it has some utility in that it combines (IMHO occasionally irritating) signalling with authentication and health measurements.

      It fits me, but (a) unlike others I don't wear it all the time (which it doesn't like, but it's my life so I make the decisions) and (b) it was that or a FitBit, and that was too limited (again, for MY purpose).

      Does that mean I need one? Nah. Nor to fit in with groups (IMHO the worst motivation ever), nor because it has somehow a magical impact on my life (sorry, Apple marketing people) - it just happens to deliver some functionality that I can use. Oh, and I don't buy every new version either, I tend to replace most gear every two or three year or when it fails - so far, gear has lasted so far past my personal refresh cycle that there are a number of happy second owners out there :).

      Part of life is messing around with things that may not have an immediate hardcore use - an Apple Watch is IMHO one of them. Will I buy another? Meh, probably not. It's handy, but not so super handy that I'll refresh this unless Apple comes up with new functionality that meets my needs, or one that my clients use extensively (an element of experimenting is also about staying informed).

    5. BGatez

      Re: An $800 watch

      AND unrepairable

  2. Screwed

    Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

    The only reason I'd like an Apple Watch 8 is to check out the health features - there are some features which might help to illuminate my own bodily issues.

    But I'd probably end up barely using any of its facilities after an initial, and rather short, period of obsessive checking. Hopelessly not worth buying.

    And the AW 7 hasn't dropped in price sufficiently to appeal even as an Apple refurb. (Even going back to the AW 3 is still remarkably expensive as an Apple refurb. And that is surely a dead-end.)

    1. Little Mouse Silver badge

      Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

      I did exactly that with a Huawei GT2. As you've figured out already, there are only so many days' worth of heart rate & sleep data you need to see before you've seen it all.

      It turns out that the real features I use are being alerted to incoming messages, the stopwatch, being able to safely answer the phone whilst driving, and -gasp!- telling the time.

      Decent battery life & a fraction of the cost of an iPhone.

      1. Hairy Spod

        Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

        Just to be clear, there is no way to safely answer a phone while driving, hands-on or hands-off.

    2. 43300 Silver badge

      Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

      Do most people not see the risks with this sort of health logging if the data leaks? A lot of it would be of great interest to some industries (e.g. health insurers), and some of it could be used for even more sinister purposes - e.g. the menstrual cycle data could be of interest to the authorities in countries / states where abortion is banned.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

        That's exactly why an Apple product is still a tad safer - not that they will never change, but for the moment they still use the privacy of their devices as a marketing element. The moment they start abusing what's on their devices à la Microsoft they will lose quite a few customers overnight, and they know it.

        1. 43300 Silver badge

          Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

          But they are a US company - and the US government does not have a good track record for respecting privacy. Who knows what pressure is being or exerted or could be in the future? Once the data exists, it's mostly not going to be deleted.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

            That's exactly why a company needs to deploy good encryption - the very second they implement a weakness or backdoor they will have lost any argument to say 'njet' when the cops and agencies come a-calling, and they tend to follow a Hotel California methodology: they will never leave.

      2. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: Even with the money available, I'll give them a miss

        There are devices that, either by design or by hacking*, collect the data and send it to a phone app which just stores it locally. Those who care about the privacy of their fitness data will either use one of those or monitor the privacy agreements related to their data to find one that they're comfortable with. There are plenty of people who don't bother with that, though.

        * If you want a local-only smartwatch, check out the Gadgetbridge app for Android, which has reverse engineered the protocols for several fitness trackers and also supports the PineTime smartwatch designed for that.

  3. trevorde Silver badge

    Landfill Heirloom

    Can't even replace the battery or even run an oldish watchOS

    1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

      Re: Landfill Heirloom

      "Apple said the Watch Sport would start at $349 in the US (which converts to about £230"

      Those were the days!

      Anyway, I don't think those paying that kind of money ($10k) really care. And the gold is easily recycled.

  4. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I paid £60 for one with built in GPS, for running, walking, cycling. So the phone is left at home when running.

    I found to what distances I actually run, which is nice. And adding some distance tells me what I actually added.

    Pretty amazing actually. About a weeks worth of battery power.

    And doesn't require me to get an iPhone -so I have an Android phone with, gasp, a 3.5mm headphone jack.

    Getting some insight into how much (little) exercise I get is useful.

    Heart resting BPM, and BPM in general, tells me how fit I am.

    Also tells the time with a nice analogue style display.

    I can't pay for things using it, so have to use a card or the phone. Not a problem.

    So there's no need to pay $800.

    1. Roopee


      This is the real point of smart watches that most of the above commentards seem to miss - they are devices that do things that traditional watches, analogue or otherwise, don't do, such as display and record your heart rate, or pop up notifications from your diary without having to get your phone out.

      I bought my second hand iWatch 2 on eBay for £100 3 years ago and it has been great, firstly as a heart monitor for running and cycling (which is what I bought it for), and secondly as a generally helpful adjunct to my iPhone when I'm out and about or working at a client's.

  5. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Missed opportunities

    Almost everyone has two wrists, yet they are only likely to put a "wearable" on one.

    I feel there is the chance for certain fruity marketing departments to fill that void.

    Next up? ankle-wear for non-criminals. How about an electronic frivolity to hang from your nose ring, too?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Have a proper watch (Citizen Ecodrive) and a smart band (with heart rate tracker). The heart rate tracker lasts for around 10 days on a charge. My older smartwatch needs charging every day.

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