Smartwatch shipments in Q3 were down 51.6 per cent compared with the same period last year as vendors pondered their next move, according to IDC.
Ramon Llamas, research manager of IDC's Wearables team, claimed that vendor delays meant that only older devices were available for purchase in the quarter.
He explained that Apple did not launch its new watchOS until the end of the quarter; Google held back the launch of its Android Wear 2.0 operating system which had a knock-on effect for its OEM partners; and Lenovo's Motorola didn't release a device.
"Collectively, this left vendors relying on older, aging devices to satisfy customers," he said.
Apple maintained its place as market leader but its market share dropped from 70.2 per cent to 41.3 per cent over the same period.
Garmin saw the strongest growth, at 324.2 per cent year on year, which IDC attributed to the growing number of watches compatible with ConnectIQ - an open platform for third-party developers.
Lenovo's Motorola smartwatch took the biggest hit, seeing shipments slump 73.3 per cent, after its Moto 360 device sold out in a number of channels and was not replaced by a new device.
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, claimed that vendors need to draw a clear divide between smartwatches and smartphones.
"It has become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone," Ubrani said.
"Having a clear purpose and use case is paramount, hence many vendors are focusing on fitness due to its simplicity.
"However, moving forward, differentiating the experience of a smartwatch from the smartphone will be key and we're starting to see early signs of this as cellular integration is rising and as the commercial audience begins to pilot these devices."
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