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Disappointing Android Wear figures revealed

Analyst firm Canalys has totted up how many Android Wear devices were shipped last year, and the figure isn’t a particularly impressive one.

Throughout 2014, a total of 4.6 million “smart wearable bands” (from fitness bands to smartwatches, in other words) were shipped, but only 720,000 of those were Android Wear devices (around 15 per cent of the grand total).

The picture might have been a bit brighter if supply of some gadgets hadn’t been restricted – for example, the Moto 360 watch suffered from supply issues in Q4, but Motorola still remained the clear top dog when it came to Android Wear manufacturers.

There was some good news for LG, as well, as its new G Watch R (modelled more after the Moto 360) did better than the original G Watch. It seems that, as we’ve always said, those smartwatches which are thoughtfully designed, and look like traditional watches rather than chunky pieces of geeky gadgetry, are the ones doing best.

Canalys Analyst Daniel Matte said: “Android Wear will need to improve significantly in the future, and we believe it will do so.”

Canalys also noted that Pebble shipped a million units from launch (in 2013) through to the close of 2014. Price cuts and the strong availability of apps helped maintain strong sales through the second half of last year, the firm observed.

Xiaomi’s Mi Band also did well, shipping over a million units of its low margin product, too.

Overall, though, Samsung is in pole position in the smart band arena, but certainly can’t do any laurel-resting. VP and Principal Analyst at Canalys, Chris Jones, commented: “Samsung has launched six devices in just 14 months, on different platforms and still leads the smart band market. But it has struggled to keep consumers engaged and must work hard to attract developers while it focuses on Tizen for its wearables.”

The Apple Watch is, of course, the gadget to watch (pun not intended) closely this year, and is expected to spark growth in the wearables market considerably – something we’ve heard many times before. 2015 will be the year of the smartwatch, and apparently Apple is on the right track with its watch which is set to offer “leading energy efficiency” according to analyst Daniel Matte.

Optimising battery life is what has delayed the Apple Watch, so let’s hope Tim Cook’s engineers have been able to hone this aspect and get it right (some reports are doubtful).

Darren Allan

Darran has over 25 years of experience in digital and magazine publishing as a writer and editor. He's also an author, having co-written a novel published by Little, Brown (Hachette UK). He currently writes news, features and buying guides for TechRadar, and occasionally other Future websites such as T3 or Creative Bloq and he's a copy editor for TechRadar Pro. Darrran has written for a large number of tech and gaming websites/magazines in the past, including Web User and ComputerActive. He has also worked at IDG Media, having been the Editor of PC Games Solutions and the Deputy Editor of PC Home.