Shipments of wearable devices are expected to reach 68.1 million units in 2015, down from 70 million units in 2014, according to Gartner. This temporary dip in sales, the research firm argues, will be driven by an overlap in functionality between smart wristbands, other wearable fitness monitors and smart watches.
However, the market for smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will rebound in 2016 because of versatile designs and models with lower-cost displays.
“Fitness wearables are used for tracking health, which goes hand-in-hand with fitness and wellness,” said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner. “Consumers will be able to integrate the data from most wearables into a single account where their data can be analyzed using cognizant computing to provide useful insights to wearers.”
The market for smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will rebound in 2016.The five main fitness wearable form factors are smart wristbands, sports watches, other fitness monitors, heart rate monitor chest straps and smart garments. Sports watches and chest straps are well established, compared with smart wristbands first popularized by the Jawbone Up, which launched in 2011.
Gartner believes that the smart garment product category has the greatest potential for growth going forward because the category is emerging from the testing phase — smart shirts are available to athletes and coaches of professional teams. Smart garment shipments are forecast to grow from 0.1 million units in 2014 to 26 million units in 2016.
Worldwide Wearable Electronic Fitness Devices Shipments Forecast, 2013-2016 (Millions of Units)
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In 2018 and through 2020, 25% of smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will be sold through nonretail channels.The company further predicts that in 2018 and through 2020, 25% of smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will be sold through nonretail channels. During this time scale, smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will be offered increasingly by gyms, wellness providers, insurance providers, weight loss clinics or employers, sometimes at subsidized prices or for free.
These companies will serve as a growing distribution channel for device manufacturers. The new channels also result from fitness monitors being integrated into employee badges or identification bracelets for access control. Business-to-consumer (B2C) companies will have rewards or gamification linked to the use of wearables as a way of keeping customers engaged with their brands.