This Month in Wearables: October 2016

Major news and new releases in the world of wearables

Welcome to JCK’s This Month in Wearables—a monthly rundown of what’s hot and happening in the world of wearable devices and technology.

Smartwatch Sales Slump
Research firm IDC reported this month that sales of smartwatches in the third quarter of this year were sluggish—shipments decreased 51.6 percent year-on-year, from 5.6 million units to 2.7 million. Apple experienced a 72 percent decline year-on-year. Interestingly, Garmin came in second for shipments and enjoyed the biggest year-on-year increase of all the companies IDC tracked. (Look for a review of our test-drive of the Fenix Chronos, Garmin’s great-looking new smartwatch, in the January–February 2017 issue of JCK.)

Fashion-focused wearables and accesories from Fitbit (photo courtesy of Fitbit)

Fitbit Turns to Fashion
Smart-tech brand Fitbit, which sells more fitness trackers than Apple does Apple Watches, debuted the Fitbit Flex 2 activity tracker this month, which comes with a series of jewelry-based metal pieces to slip it into. The brand has released a wider selection of all-metal accessories that look more like real-deal jewelry instead of ’80s Swatches (which encapsulate the design heights many wearable brands are still content to climb). The brand, having already captured the sport-tech consumer, is clearly pivoting to the fashion buyer. Crowns Apple Series 2 Wearable of the Year, the London-based news site devoted to the in-depth coverage of wearable devices, held its first ever Wareable Tech Awards—celebrating wearable devices voted on by “thousands” of its readers—at Shoreditch Town Hall in London this month. The Apple Watch Series 2 was chosen as the Wearable of the Year and the Smartwatch of the Year. The Garmin Vivosmart HR+ beat out the Fitbit Charge 2 for Fitness Tracker of the Year, and Moov Now was crowned the Sports Wearable of the Year. The Fashion Collection of the Year went to the Fossil Group, which turned out a bevy of stylish devices this year. 

Emporio Armani Connected smartwatches, which debuted this month (photo courtesy of Emporio Armani/Fossil Group)

Emporio Armani Connected Watch Launches
Speaking of the Fossil Group, the prolific wearable developer debuted its latest fashion-first smart device this month—Emporio Armani’s Connected. The smartwatch, which is priced between $245 and $395, comes in rose gold-tone, black, gunmetal, and stainless steel and design-wise feels like a natural outcropping of the brand’s analog styles. Features include an automatic time zone mode, alarms you can set straight off the watch, activity and sleep tracking (powered by Misfit, which is also owned by Fossil), and the ability to play music from your a smartphone.

Misfit Debuts Its First Smartwatch
Misfit kicked off the craze for creating smart devices that can be slipped in and out of devices with its original Shine wearable. And now the developer has debuted it first real smartwatch—the Misfit Phase. The watch does what its popular Ray and Shine 2 wearables do, namely track your steps, sleep, and distance. But Wareable reports that its analog design “means the Phase relies on its hour and minute hand to inform you of an incoming call, text, or other update, alongside a little buzz.” And each type of notification (phone calls, emails, texts) has its own color code that shows up in a small window at the bottom of the watch’s face—which is a neat idea. 

(Photo at top courtesy of Emporio Armani/Fossil Group)

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JCK Senior Editor

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