With Apple Watch heading to market soon, early shipment figures released by analyst firm Canalys have not been particularly encouraging for makers of Android Wear smartwatches.

Canalys reports that 4.6 million “smart wearable bands” were sold during 2014 and that 720,000 of these were Android Wear watches. This represents a 16 percent share, in what Canalys is calling “the smart band market.” The numbers show a relatively slow start for Google’s smartwatch OS.

The most successful Android Wear product was the Moto 360, which was supply constrained through Q4. Pebble sold over 1 million of its watches but that number represents the total the company has sold since launch in January, 2013.

Samsung launched 6 devices in a 14 month period and marketed them extensively. Canalyst analyst Chris Jones, chided the Korean tech giant for its efforts, claiming that Samsung “has struggled to keep consumers engaged and must work hard to attract developers while it focuses on Tizen for its wearables.” Despite this, he conceded that Samsung “still leads the smart band market.”

Canalys analyst Daniel Matte stated the obvious, when he said that the Apple Watch will “dramatically grow the market for smart bands and wearables overall.” He might have over-reached slightly, with his conclusion that Apple’s as yet untested product would “offer leading energy efficiency.”

The bar has been set low for the Apple Watch and it is unlikely to have much difficulty getting over it. Meeting some analysts’ expectations will be an entirely different matter.


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