Smartwatch popularity continues to grow according to latest research from International Data Corporation (IDC). The category makes up a third of the wearables market right now in terms of shipment volume, but two-thirds in terms of spend due to their higher average prices.
Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets
The global wearables market is heading for another record year. IDC expects 15.1% growth in 2018 to 132.9 million units shipped. And all is looking well for the years ahead, as well. The overall market is expected to deliver a steady compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.4% by 2022.
Fitness trackers are not going anywhere but with shifting consumer preferences, smartwatches are expected to be the star performer. In five years time, they will account for almost two out of every five wearable devices shipped.
“The appetite for wristbands and basic watches will not go away,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s wearables team.
“Both products will enjoy sustained popularity as users’ first wearable thanks to their simplicity and lower price points and will reach new audiences as part of digital health solutions (wristbands) or for those who want wearable technology but prefer the traditional look and feel of a hybrid watch.”
Over half of all smartwatches last year were shipped by Apple. IDC says the Cupertino outfit will maintain its lead over the forecast period but Fitbit, Garmin and Wear OS watches will close the gap over time.
“Consumers are finally starting to understand and demand the utility of a smartwatch,” Senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said.
“At present, fitness uses lead by a mile but mobile payments and messaging are starting to catch on. The addition of cellular connectivity is also starting to resonate with early adopters and looking ahead the emergence of new use cases like music streaming or additional health sensors will make cellular connectivity pivotal to the success of the smartwatch.”
IDC adds that another growing category will be fitness trackers and smartwatches dedicated to kids. Garmin with its Vivofit Jr 2 and more recently Fitbit with its Ace fitness tracker are currently the only mainstream companies with such devices. The expected growth is not surprising as more than a third of children in the developed world are overweight. Many of these devices are designed to help your kids get fitter and healthier, while making counting steps feel like a fun game.
Essential reading: Top 10 fitness trackers for kids 2018
But it is earwear and smart clothing that are expected to put in the highest CAGR over the next five years, albeit from a lower base. With the rise of smart voice-enabled assistants, biometric headphones and other earwear are projected to grow from 2% to 6% of the wearables market.
Smart clothing will see more modest growth from 3.1% to 5.3%. This category has, so far, lagged behind other wearables but it probably has most potential for growth in the long-term.
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