A Year After Apple Watch, Smartwatches Remain a Niche Item

Even with a year of hype over smartwatches, the tech gadgets remain very much a niche item, and it is not clear what effect they are having on the traditional watch industry. Apple debuted its smartwatch in May 2015 with a flurry of hype, including a high-end 18k gold version. Yet indications are mixed on how well it’s doing; Apple refuses to provide sales figures, but the company has said the watch has beat expectations (without specifying what those expectations were). It didn’t escape notice in the tech press that shortly after Apple introduced its watch, exports of Swiss watches began what was, at press time, an eight-month decline. But most in the watch industry don’t think smartwatches have anything to do with this, pointing instead to the ongoing economic problems in Asia. Some analysts, on the other hand, say an “Apple effect” cannot be discounted. “We f

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