This week both Apple and Fossil revealed that the push into wearables is paying off. The former of course never reveals specific numbers on the performance of its smartwatches, which forms part of its wearable division (and includes Beats headphones and AirPods). But recent analysis suggests that the Series 3 is doubling the sales of the Series 2 and that the Watch apparently outsold Rolex, Omega and Swatch and the rest of the Swiss watch industry in the last quarter of 2017.
As for Fossil, its watch business, like many other watchmakers in recent years has been struggling, and while it's not out of trouble just yet, sales are up. A big part of that upsurge lies with the company's decision to go big on smartwatches, rolling out wearables across brands like Michael Kors, DKNY and Diesel. Sales of its wearables doubled to over $300 million and helped lead a boost in watch sales during the second half of 2017.
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So I'm not going to bang that 'wearables are not dead drum' once again. Instead, I want to talk more about why Apple and Fossil are starting to find some success on the smartwatch front. Why are people now starting to feel drawn to the idea and the appeal of owning one?
In the case of Apple, I feel like that's down to a few things. The first being the introduction of LTE connectivity, which if I'm perfectly honest doesn't get a lot of use from me. But when Apple announced it was making its smartwatch more of a standalone device, I definitely got the sense that this was a feature that those sitting on the fence might have been waiting for.
I also just think that Apple's latest Watch is actually really good at what it does. Yes, that look will continue to divide, but core features like notification support and sports tracking features have vastly improved. I'm certainly grumbling a lot less about the battery life than I did with previous generations as well.
As for Fossil, I put it down to one simple fact; it's doing a better job than most at making smartwatches that just don't look like smartwatches. For the younger, fashion-conscious crowd it's pitching these connected devices to, looks are everything. Its hybrids are arguably some of the most attractive options out there and it's definitely been more successful than others in hiding away the full-fat touchscreen displays on its Android Wear watches.
While we tend to grumble about the basic smarts (come on, Fossil, give us contactless payments), I fully appreciate why Fossil has been more selective with how it introduces these features and the ones it does choose to include. The person who is buying a Fossil smartwatch is certainly not the same person that's eyeing up a Samsung Gear S3 or a Fitbit Ionic.
And that's what I think is really important here. For so long we've talked about smartwatch makers not really knowing what people want from these devices. But the tide is definitely turning. The way people want to use smartwatches is becoming clearer and the likes of Fossil and Apple are seeing that better than most.
It's not about throwing features and innovating for the sakes of innovating. It's about getting that balance between watch and smarts just right. Knowing your audience. This is why the two companies from two different worlds have reasons to be cheerful this week. It's good for Fossil and Apple but more importantly it's good for the wearable industry as a whole.
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