Motorola Moto 360 the Android Wearable to Beat, For Now: Canalys

As the industry holds its breath for the upcoming Apple Watch, Motorola Mobility's smartwatch is off to a good start.

Demand for Moto 360, Motorola Mobility's Android Wear-based smartwatch, helped push smart and basic wearable bands shipments to 5 million units last quarter (Q3 2014), a 37 percent gain over Q2 2014.

"Motorola Mobility's Moto 360 was by far the most successful of the initial Android Wear devices, accounting for over 15 percent of the smart band market according to Canalys estimates," despite shortages, said the research group in a statement. Its popularity is already having an effect on the competition's product plans.

LG is switched to a circular display for the G Watch R. Samsung is experimenting with larger screens and built-in cellular connectivity. Meanwhile, a larger shadow looms.

Daniel Matte, an analyst for Canalys, observed in a statement that the Apple Watch reveal "late in the quarter has likely had an effect on sales of existing devices, as some consumers will choose to wait for Apple's wearable." Apple CEO Tim Cook debuted the Apple Watch, alongside the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus phablet, on Sept. 19, during a splashy media presentation in Cupertino, Calif., the device maker's home town.

Nonetheless, Apple Watch is unlikely to steamroll its Android Wear rivals.

"The smart band market was flat between Q2 and Q3, but with an installed base of over 1.8 billion Android smart phones, there is a huge potential market of Android users not considering an Apple Watch," continued Matte.

Juniper Research recently released a forecast stating that the market for wearables hardware will reach $53 billion by 2019, driven in large part by high-end, wrist-worn smart devices. "The market will be driven by an increase in sales of premium smart watches and smart glasses over the next five years," predicted the firm.

With its comparatively extensive wearable device portfolio, Samsung took the top spot in smart wearable bands -- smartwatches and other wearables that run third-party apps -- last quarter with 52 percent of shipments. Motorola and Pebble accounted for 15 percent and 12 percent of the market, respectively.

Fitbit took first place in the basic wearable band category, which Canalys defines "as devices serving a specific set of purposes that act as accessories to smart devices, are designed to be worn on the body and not carried, and that cannot run third-party computing applications." Jawbone, Garmin, Xiaomi and Huawei followed, knocking Nike out of the top five.

"Low-end basic bands providing simple activity tracking functionality are becoming increasingly commoditized, and will flood the market heading into the holidays, especially in China," said Canalys analyst Jingwen Wang, in a statement. The market leaders are responding by pursuing a time-honored tradition: feature creep.

Wang noted that "Fitbit, Jawbone and others have attempted to make basic bands smarter, adding various smart watch features and increasing the sophistication and integration of sensors."

Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Tags: mobile, Apple, Motorola, smartwatch

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