Wearables Week in Review

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Week In Review

One step backwards, one step forwards

Samsung is the center of two interesting rumors this week in the wearables space. The company appears to be pulling back from some of the features in its Health app, apparently removing weight, calorie and caffeine tracking from the app. On the flip side, the company is expected to launch its next Galaxy Watch at the upcoming Unboxed event (August 5) which will come with the usual features (waterproof to 5 ATM and an LTE version) but is apparently slightly smaller with a 45mm case, rather than the current 46mm (also a smaller model at 41mm).

The NPD Take:

  • Samung’s decision to remove features from its Health app are most likely due to poor use of these features. After all, while calorie tracking sounds good, in reality it’s hard to do accurately in this manner and most people give up quickly. However, by removing features, the Health app is less likely to be the central health tracking app that people flock to, instead choosing an alternative that can pull in a broader range of tracking. That’s not good for Samsung from an ecosystem perspective.
  • It’s too early to say much about the new Galaxy Watch, but in general Samsung needs to continue to push forward in this category as the Number 2 smartwatch vendor (after Apple of course). We would say that a strong LTE-focused promotion with the carriers is key to driving quicker sales, rather than the more usual hardware bundle.

Another Smartwatch OPPOrtunity

It looks like it’s going to be a busy week for smartwatches. In addition to Samsung’s anticipated launch, we’re also expecting OPPO to launch its second smartwatch later this week. The initial version, launched earlier this year used some pretty rudimentary software as its OS: the new one is expected to use Google’s Wear OS. That should mean that the device will be targeted at a broader international market, rather than just the domestic Chinese opportunity. That could drive interest, particularly as (if it looks anything like the original version) it has more than a passing resemblance to the Apple Watch but at a much lower price.

The NPD Take:

  • The smartwatch market is a tough space right now, not least because of the impact of COVID-19. While that’s bad news for the higher-end devices, it could provide a strong opportunity for mid to low tire smartwatches, which is where we expect OPPO to play.
  • Of course, the brand is not well known in the US, despite being a top tier smartphone OEM. Success will require strong marketing and retail shelf space and that could prove to be an uphill battle for OPPO.

Dead Space

Garmin’s services have been down since late last week and while the company has not confirmed the cause, it is widely believed to be experiencing a ransomware attack that has left its internal network encrypted. As well as impacting customers of the Garmin’s wearables, it is also preventing pilots from downloading the latest version of Garmin’s aviation database on their systems which is required by the FAA.

The NPD Take:

  • Garmin has carved out a strong market in the sports-related wearables market over the past few years, but if this does not get resolved fairly soon, we could see many consumers looking to move to a new device. Apple will be the clearest beneficiary as it has the strongest reputation for privacy and (hopefully) security.
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