Under the direction of the late Steve Jobs, Apple went on a hot streak, releasing ultra-hip devices like the iMac, iPod, MacBook and iPad. But even for tech addicted early adopters, the Apple Watch was a smart device too far.
Now, weak sales have convinced many printed circuit board suppliers that smartwatches don’t represent a growth market after all. Through insulation and epoxy dispensing, electronic devices of all kinds are designed to last longer. Like other polymers, potting compounds will shrink as they cure — as much as 2.3% for an unfilled epoxy potting compound.
The PCB supply chain helps produce the circuit boards that are ubiquitous in modern electronic devices, and the smartphone era has been a major source of growth for the industry. Last week, DigiTimes reported that many PCB firms were souring on the concept of smartwatches altogether after weak sales of the Apple Watch.
The site quoted industry sources as concluding, “In addition, the manufacture of flexible PCBs (FPCB) for use in smartwatches generate relatively lower profits than the manufacture of FPCBs for other consumer technology products like smartphones, the sources noted. With smartwatch shipments still far lower than smartphone shipments, production for smartwatches will be making an insignificant contribution to PCB suppliers’ sales as well as profitability for 2016.”
Even though the Apple Watch has an impressive 50% market share among smartwatches, overall sales for the wearable tech have been anything but. While many hip young writers practically drool whenever Apple unveils a new products, the Apple Watch was released to widespread scorn.
Critics say it’s a totally unnecessary and tacky luxury product. In a piece for Gawker, writer Sam Biddle released a withering rant against the watch titled, “Take the Pledge: I Will Not Have Sex With Anyone Who Wears an AppleWatch.”
“Yesterday, before an auditorium of engorged tech journalists, Apple revealed the final details of its dorkiest luxury item yet, the Apple Watch. It is an additional screen you can buy if you can’t be bothered to take your iPhone out of your pocket. It will be a trophy of sloth and status for the worst segment of our society, those with both ample disposable income and a vacuum of taste.”
While wearable tech like smartwatches and virtual reality headsets are much-hyped gadgets for the Brave New World of 2016, skepticism for these types of high-end electronics is growing stronger as well.
If the reaction of the PCB manufacturing world is any indication, Apple may have a genuine dud on its hands — or, rather, its wrists.