Apple Leads as Smartwatch Sales Top Sales of Swiss Watches in Q4

In the fourth quarter of 2015, global shipments of smartwatches totaled 8.1 million, a year-over-year jump of 316%. Apple Inc. (NASDAQ: AAPL) grabbed 63% of the global smartwatch market, nearly four times higher than the 16% share toted up by second-place Samsung. The two companies combined to capture nearly 80% of smartwatch sales in the quarter.

Fourth-quarter Swiss watch sales totaled 7.9 million, down 5% year over year as watchmakers struggle to find growth.

The data were reported Thursday by Strategy Analytics. The research firm noted that this is the first time that smartwatch sales have outshipped Swiss watches on a global basis.

Demand for smartwatches is growing rapidly in North America, Western Europe and Asia, according to Strategy Analytics. Executive director Neil Mawston said:

The Swiss watch industry has been very slow to react to the development of smartwatches. The Swiss watch industry has been sticking its head in the sand and hoping smartwatches will go away. Swiss brands, like Tag Heuer, accounted for a tiny 1 percent of all smartwatches shipped globally during Q4 2015, and they are a long way behind Apple, Samsung and other leaders in the high-growth smartwatch category.

We would only note that Fossil Group Inc. (NASDAQ: FOSL) posted a big earnings beat earlier this week and its stock price jumped by 25%. That would seem to belie the data from Strategy Analytics, but analysts are not convinced. Oppenheimer rates Fossil stock at Perform, but cites both competition from smartwatches and slowing growth in the North American market as concerns.

Nomura’s analyst is no more enthusiastic, putting a $37 price target on Fossil stock with a Neutral rating. Again, competition from smartwatches is the key concern.

Strategy Analytics has noted that the bell has begun tolling for Swiss watch sales growth, and while it’s probably too early to declare the demise of Swiss watches, these data fall into the category of “a word to the wise.”

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