Google Glass pictured above
The wearables market is still in its infancy, particularly when it comes to smartwatches, which are only just starting to take off, but sales are likely to grow dramatically over the next few years according to CCS Insight’s new global forecast.
Global shipments of wearables sat at 9.7 million in 2013, but that’s expected to rise to 135 million in 2018 and wrist-worn wearables are predicted to account for 87% of that, with around 68 million smartwatches and 50 million smart bands likely to be sold.
Right now smart bands are the most popular wearable and by the end of 2014 CCS Insight predicts that over half of the 35 million wearables in use will be smart bands of some variety. But as you can see from the stats above smartwatcheswill soon overtake them.
CCS Insight theorises that smartwatches will begin to broaden their appeal, refine their capabilities, add new functions and fall in price and that will be what pushes them ahead of smart bands.
Other forms of wearables such as smart glasses are expected to see slower growth and by 2018 are still likely to be niche devices, but not as niche as they are today. On the other hand smart jewellery and wearable cameras are expected to become less popular over the next few years.
As for where wearables are selling, currently North America is the biggest market, with over 40% of all current wearables in use there, however by 2016 it’s expected that consumers in Western Europe will be buying more wearables than those in North America.
But wearable sales are likely to remain at their highest in developed markets, as 77% of the estimated 250 million wearables in use in 2018 will be in developed markets according to CCS Insight.
Then again at this point anything could happen. Marina Koytcheva, CCS Insight's Director of Forecasting said: "The market is still in a chaotic stage of development, and there's still a huge amount of uncertainty. Every category faces different risks: the way people use wearables is still changing, one type of device could kill sales in another category, people are unsure whether some wearables are socially acceptable, and intellectual property rights are a minefield for the dozens of start-ups entering the wearables market.
"The market could be changed 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."
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