Google’s smartwatch initiative is off to a slow start. Android Wear, the series of devices powered by Google but made by manufacturing partners like Motorola, LG and Samsung, is lagging behind more established players in the market.
Android Wear sold 15.6 percent of the total “smart wearable bands” market in 2014, according to market analysts at Canalys. The company says it believes that out of 4.6 million devices sold last year, the six Android Wear models that hit the market together sold about 720,000 units.
The analysts included any wrist-worn devices capable of running applications made by a third party, which includes Pebble and Samsung’s Tizen-powered watches. Canalys said in a report it published Wednesday that Android Wear’s first few months of sales fell below expectations from the search giant.
Smartwatches were outsold by fitness bands three to one, the analysts claim. The simpler wristband devices, which focus on step-tracking and fitness, are sold by companies like Fitbit, Razer and Jawbone.
The bands lacked a screen and support for outside apps, but beat out smartwatches on battery life. The analysts say that the problem might lie in Android Wear devices’ brightly lit touchscreens and smartphone notifications that can quickly drain their small batteries.
The wearable category will likely shift, Canalys said, when Apple Inc. introduces its Apple Watch later this year. The device’s battery life is expected to be marginally better than Google-powered smartwatches, if at all, but the company’s past successes likely mean it will eventually define the market for consumers.
Google is expected to unveil Android Wear 2.0 this year, with improvements that could turn the tide in its favor. The Moto 360, which Motorola designed to look like a traditional wristwatch with a round face and stainless steel case, beat out other Android Wear devices, the report said, despite supply issues that impacted sales.