Wearables shipments to exceed 43.2 million units next year

Canalys wearables research

Wearable band shipments will grow 129% year on year and reach 43.2 million units in 2015. 28.2 million will be smart bands and 15.0 million will be basic bands, according to Canalys, which refers to smart bands as those devices capable of running third-party applications (smart watches?); and basic bands as those without this capability.

The research firm believes that Apple will be the biggest driver behind wearable band shipments in 2015. “By creating a new user interface tailored to its tiny display, Apple has a produced a smart watch that mass-market consumers will actually want to wear,” said Canalys Analyst Daniel Matte. “Apple must still prove, however, that the final product will deliver adequate battery life for consumers.”

The Apple Watch aside, low-cost Chinese vendors are increasingly playing a role in the market for wearable bands; and there’s also Google with its Android Wear platform.The Apple Watch aside, low-cost Chinese vendors are increasingly playing a role in the market for wearable bands. Xiaomi has attempted to dramatically lower the price of basic bands with its Mi Band.

On the other hand, Google is building its own eco-system with Android Wear, having managed to attract some of the biggest vendors, including Motorola, LG, Asus and Samsung, with others likely to join in the future. One of these however, Samsung, also has its own platform (Tizen) which is running on few smart watches (Gear series).

Long-term, wearable bands from all vendors must provide clear value to consumers beyond the existing capabilities of smart phones in order to justify the purchase of an additional device.

“The basic band vendors, such as Fitbit and Jawbone, will enjoy the advantages of their lower pricing for the immediate future,” according to Canalys VP and Principal Analyst Chris Jones. “Eventually, however, stronger smart band competitors to the Apple Watch will likely emerge and push smart band pricing down, threatening the basic bands. This market will undergo disruption similar to that suffered by feature phones when smart phone prices fell.”