What is the charm of a smart watch that sells 40 million pieces a year?

On September 6, Huawei released the latest smartphone Mate 50 series, which is in direct confrontation with the iPhone 14 released by Apple on September 7. Such a lively new smartphone melee, young people may love to watch, but they don't really buy it.

According to International Data Corporation (IDC) statistics, in the second quarter of 2022, global smartphone shipments fell by 9% year-on-year, of which China's smartphone market shipped about 67.2 million units, down 14.7% year-on-year.

Fewer and fewer people are switching phones, causing the smartphone market to continue to decline. But on the flip side, the market for smartwatches continues to expand. According to Counterpoint data, in the second quarter of 2022, global smartwatch shipments increased by 13% year-on-year, while in China, smartwatch sales increased by 48% year-on-year.

We are curious: Why can smart watches become the new darling of the digital market when mobile phone sales continue to decline today?

What is a smartwatch?

The popularity of "smart watches" is a matter of the past few years.

Many people may be more familiar with its predecessor "smart bracelet". In fact, both of them are a kind of "smart wearable" product. Baidu Encyclopedia's definition of "smart wearable" is "the general term for the application of wearable technology to intelligently design daily wear and develop wearable (electronic) devices".

At present, the most common forms of smart wear include ear wear (including various types of headphones), wrist wear (including bracelets, watches, etc.), and headwear (VR / AR devices).

As the most advanced wristband smart wearable devices on the market, smartwatches can be divided into three categories according to their service groups: children's smart watches mainly focus on precise positioning, safety protection, learning assistance, and other functions, while elderly smartwatches focus more on health monitoring; and Adult smartwatches can assist in fitness, portable office, online payment... more comprehensive functions.

According to the function, smartwatches can also be divided into professional health and sports watches, and more all-around smartwatches. But these are sub-categories that have only emerged in recent years. At first, smartwatches were just "electronic watches" or "digital watches" that used computing technology.

This history can be traced back to 1972: Japan's Seiko and the American Hamilton Watch Company developed wrist computing technology and released the first-ever digital watch "Pulsar", which was priced at $2,100. Since then, digital watches have been continuously improved and evolved into smartwatches, and finally, around 2015, with the entry of mainstream brands such as Apple, Huawei, and BBK, they successfully entered the general consumer market.

To this day, there are still new brands joining the competition in the smartwatch market. Because compared with the already saturated smartphone market, the smart wearable market still has huge potential. Smartwatch-related technologies have also undergone great changes in the past ten years.

Take Apple's Apple Watch as an example:

In 2015, the first series 0 was released, although it can measure heart rate and connect to Wi-Fi, its function is more dependent on the mobile phone. In the following years, sports and health monitoring functions such as independent GPS, swimming waterproofing, breathing training, electrocardiogram, blood oxygen measurement, sleep recording, and body temperature sensing was added, and gradually became independent of mobile phones.

And in recent years, with the introduction of SOS emergency help and car accident detection functions, safety functions will probably become a major trend in the iterative update of smartwatches in the future.

Interestingly, when the first-generation Apple watch came out, Apple launched an Apple Watch Edition that cost more than $12,000, trying to make it a luxury product similar to traditional watches. But unfortunately, the replacement of technological products is too fast, and they are not as valuable as ordinary luxury goods, and very few people are willing to buy them. The Edition series was also canceled across the board the following year.

What smartwatches are everyone buying?

In terms of sales alone, Apple and Huawei are the top faults in the domestic adult smartwatch market. Their sales on Tmall are more than 10 times that of Xiaomi and OPPO, which are ranked third and fourth. Xiaomi and OPPO are more lacking in awareness due to their late entry (the first smartwatches were launched in 2019 and 2020, respectively), which affected sales to a certain extent.

Xiaomi is actually one of the pioneering brands in the wearable field, releasing the first Xiaomi bracelet as early as 2014. According to International Data Corporation (IDC) statistics, in 2019, Xiaomi achieved a cumulative shipment of 100 million wearable devices, to which the wearable device on the wrist - the Xiaomi Mi Band - contributed. However, Xiaomi focuses on bracelets and only invested in Huami Technology (the manufacturer of Amazfit today) in 2014, and has not launched a smartwatch brand that belongs to Xiaomi. It was not until the decline in sales of smart bracelets in recent years that Xiaomi was forced to join the competition in the smartwatch market.

Although there are not as many choices in the current smartwatch market as mobile phones, the differentiated competition between different brands is still in full swing.

At present, the top five smartwatch brands with the highest sales all have different product lines, targeting the needs of different groups of people. Taking Apple as an example, the new Apple Watch released in September this year has three series: SE (cost-effective), S8 (all-round standard), and Ultra (outdoor professional).

But each brand has a different competitive advantage. For example, this year, Apple tried to use Ultra to break into the field of outdoor professional watches, but it was not favored by many people. Because Garmin, a brand that started with GPS, has natural advantages in this area:

Garmin's smartwatches feature professional-grade field sports features such as solar charging, high-precision positioning, high-brightness LED lighting, thermal adaptation, and height adaptation. By comparison, the Apple Watch, which still needs to be charged once a day and a half (36 hours of Ultra battery life) even after the upgrade, is a bit of a jerk.

Apple Watch's "one charge a day" battery life experience has been criticized for a long time. Domestic brands, whether Huawei, OPPO, or Xiaomi, far surpass Apple in this regard. Under normal use, the battery life of the Huawei GT3 is 14 days, Xiaomi's Watch S1 is 12 days, and OPPO Watch 3 can also reach 10 days. Compared with Huawei, OPPO and Xiaomi are more affordable in terms of price.

Although the market volume of children's watches is smaller than that of adult watches, it also occupies a considerable part of the market share. According to IDC industry data, in 2020, China's children's smartwatch shipments will be about 15.82 million pieces, accounting for 38.10% of the total smartwatch market share.

At present, Xiaocai, a sub-brand of BBK, has occupied the leading position in the industry because of its early entry, and its total sales on Tmall are more than double that of Huawei, which ranks second. According to forward-looking data, Xiaocai currently accounts for more than 30% of children's smartwatches, which is comparable to Apple's market share in adult smartwatches.

Why do people buy smart watches?

Sports records are the most important reason for consumers to buy smartwatches, and 67.9% of the surveyed users said they have this need. Sleep records, health monitoring, and GPS positioning are also the reasons why more than half of consumers buy smart watches.

Zhang Tiantian (pseudonym), who bought Apple Watch Series 7 half a year ago, started a smartwatch in order to monitor his health on a daily basis and promote himself to exercise better. Half a year later, she feels that her daily habits have indeed changed:

"In order to close the (health index) ring, I can do anything. In my daily life, I will stand and walk more, and now I will get off the subway one stop earlier when I go home so that I will walk 1.5 kilometers more than usual. , about 80 calories more."

In fact, "health", "positioning" and "sports" are indeed the functions most used by smartwatch users. 61.1% of the respondents said that they often use the watch's health monitoring function, and more than half of the respondents said that they often use the GPS positioning and exercise recording functions.

For those functions that can be completed by the smartphone itself, such as "calling", "WeChat" and "information", relatively few respondents said they would often use smartwatches to complete them: only 32.1%, 25.6%, and 10.10% of respondents, respectively Respondents said they frequently use these features on their smartwatches.

On Xiaohongshu, in addition to brand recommendation and evaluation, functional usage and appearance design are the most discussed aspects of smartwatch-related notes.

Everyone's discussion of the appearance of a smartwatch is no less than the pursuit of its functional use. After all, the essence of smart wearable devices is to be "worn" on the body and become part of the personal image. Therefore, in the discussion of smartwatches, adjectives such as "good-looking", "cute", "advanced" and "exquisite" are often used to describe clothing.

In terms of functional uses, in addition to sports and health, "learning", "payment", "social" and "games" are also functions that everyone will pay attention to when choosing a smartwatch.

Zhang Tiantian, a new smartwatch user, said that he would often use the Apple Watch to "compete with others and add friends" to further motivate himself to keep exercising and maintain healthy body data in the form of social interaction.

Xiao Moxian (pseudonym), who is planning to buy a smartwatch, considers: If the office is too busy to check, and it is too conspicuous to take out the mobile phone, it is also easy to fish with a watch.

In addition to these relatively practical functions, smart watches also have many bizarre and seemingly useless little skills that are sought after by some young people.

For example, Keren (pseudonym), an old user of Apple Watch SE, recently discovered a third-party app called airshot, which can automatically match special sound effects when smartwatch wearers make air shots, hand shots, etc. Her "social tool" during this period of time, as long as she sees friends, will happily perform air shots with her own BGM.

As various brands continue to increase the dial area in recent years (Apple Watch has evolved from the 38mm dial of the original generation to the 49mm dial of this year's new series Ultra, expanding by nearly 30%), more functions are also becoming possible.

Write at the end

After using the smartwatch immersively for half a year and really feeling its benefits for health monitoring, Zhang Tiantian said a little helplessly:

"It feels like I've been kidnapped by a smartwatch."

Obviously, it is the smartwatch that I decided to buy, and it is obviously the goal I want to achieve through the smartwatch, but I feel an inexplicable sense of "discipline" when executing it, which is not uncommon among young smartwatch users.

Xiaoyu (pseudonym) went to the movies last weekend, and when she saw the excitement, the smartwatch reminded her that it was time to "stand up and move". For a moment, she was "really thinking about whether to go out for a walk".

Xiaohongshu blogger @Just called a Dabuliu and complained that the smart watch is "a record of taming human beings": "After you have a smart watch, you will be like a donkey in the production team, and you won't be able to stop."

Perhaps self-discipline is a Bentham panorama prison from the very beginning; and a smart watch is a handcuff that we voluntarily put on - in order to serve better.

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