Shipments of smart wearables are expected to grow from 9.7 million in 2013 to 135 million in 2018, according to CCS Insight’s new global forecast. The research firm predicts that wrist-worn devices will account for 87% of wearables to be shipped in 2018, comprising 68 million smartwatches and 50 million smart bands with no screen or with a minimal, one-line display.
“Wearables are poised to be the perfect gift for the person who has everything this Christmas,” said Marina Koytcheva, CCS Insight’s Director of Forecasting. “We believe this will fuel strong growth in the final quarter of 2014 for smart bands, particularly fitness trackers, which will account for more than half of the 35 million wearables in use at end of 2014.”
5.2 million wearables were sold in North America in 2013.CCS Insight expects many smart band manufacturers to extend their product ranges by adding devices with screens. As smartwatches broaden their appeal, capabilities are refined, new functions are added and prices fall, smartwatches will displace fitness bands and become the most used form of wearables.
5.2 million wearables were sold in North America in 2013, and over 40% of all wearable devices currently in use are there. This, according to CSS Insight, is because many wearable companies are based in North America, but also because the region has proven eager to adopt new technology. Western Europe is catching up and from 2016 is expected to buy more wearables than North America. In the emerging markets, adoption will be slower and primarily driven by tech-savvy, affluent users.
The wearables market could change beyond recognition if a major player like Apple decides to get into the game.When it comes to wearable devices equipped with their own cellular connectivity, we should see these popping up later this year. The research firm expects a number of high-profile devices with their own SIM cards to be announced in the coming months. However, these devices will face significant challenges as people are reluctant to take out another contract with their mobile operator.
Koytcheva went on to point out that because the wearables market is in a chaotic stage of development, it could change beyond recognition if a major player like Apple decides to get into the game. “History shows us that when Apple enters a market it can reshape the way people think about a product,” she concluded.