Are Wearable Electronics Killing Watches?


Are wearable electronics such as the Apple Watch and the Fitbit killing “regular” timepieces? New data from The NPD Group suggests that sales of traditional watches dropped 14 percent in June, versus the same month a year ago.

If true, that represents the biggest decline since 2008. “The Apple Watch is going to gain a significant amount of penetration,” Fred Levin, an analyst with The NPD Group, told Bloomberg. “The first couple of years will be difficult for watches in fashion categories.”

While Apple and other wearable-electronic companies have proven reluctant to share too much sales data, any dip in sales for traditional watches could indicate a rising interest in wearable electronics. If that interest translates into significant sales, it could validate a relatively new category of devices with its fair share of critics and detractors.

People abandoning traditional watches for wearable electronics is also good news for tech pros who make a living through apps or hardware modifications. For example, there’s a small but growing community of hardware experts who make money by designing and producing third-party bands for the Apple Watch; if customers actually buy the Watch, those creators have a market for their product (and a justification for their time).

On the software side, companies such as Fitbit offer APIs for developers, who need to know that a product is viable before they spend lots of time building apps for it; positive data about sales (or data that could suggest something positive about sales) is just the sort of thing those developers need to plunge into the market.

As with most nascent hardware categories, cautious tech pros might want to wait a few more quarters before actually devoting time and resources to developing a new product.