Gartner: Smartwatches Will Pass Wristbands in 2016

By Tom Allen
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274.6 million wearables will be sold worldwide this year, Gartner has predicted, up 18.4% from 232 million in 2015. These sales will generate $28.7 billion in revenues, of which $11.5 billion will be from smartwatches.

Smartwatch adoption will grow 48% between 2015 and 2017, says Gartner research director Angela McIntyre. This growth will largely be due to Apple’s positioning of wearables as a lifestyle choice. She elaborates: “Smartwatches have the greatest revenue potential among all wearables through 2019, reaching $17.5 billion… Though the sales of smartwatches are one of the strongest types of wearables, their adoption will remain much below sales of smartphones. For example, in 2016 more than 374 million smartphones will sell in mature market countries and in large urban areas of emerging market countries, for example, in Hong Kong and Singapore”.

Fitness wearables continue to increase in popularity. Sports watches, though, will be the only category to maintain its ASP over the next several years. These will be bolstered by continued advances in capabilities.

The size of the global wristband market was equal to sales of smartwatches in 2015. However, going forward smartwatches will have a stronger appeal with consumers. Wristband providers are experimenting with how to boost their products’ appeal with consumers. Examples of emerging value propositions include mobile payments, access, safety and wellness and health.

Head-mounted displays are an emerging market, and in 2016 will move towards mainstream adoption in both consumer and enterprise use. New HMDs, such as the Playstation VR, HTC Vive and Hololens, are expected to be made available with video games and entertainment content, as well as business apps. Gartner’s Brian Blau said, “Film producers and sports leagues will augment their traditional content through HMDs to enhance their customer experiences by creating interactive attractions, movies, and sporting events that make the content more personal and meaningful”.

Gartner expects enterprise use of HMDs to grow in the coming years. 26% of HMDs will be designed for business use in 2018.

Forecast for Wearable Devices Worldwide (Millions)
Device 2015 2016 2017
Smartwatch 30.32 50.40 66.71
HMD 0.14 1.43 6.31
Body-worn Camera 0.05 0.17 1.05
Bluetooth Headset 116.32 128.50 139.23
Wristband 30.15 34.97 44.10
Smart Garment 0.06 1.01 5.30
Chest Strap 12.88 13.02 7.99
Sports Watch 21.02 23.98 26.92
Other Fitness Monitor 21.07 21.11 25.08
Total 232.01 274.59 322.69
Source: Gartner