Worldwide wearable sales are ramping up dramatically and smartwatches get most of the credit, according to recent reports on the wearables market by IDC and Gartner.  We referenced the same trend noted in an IDC report earlier this year when the market analysis firm predicted that new smartwatch sales would reach 90 million units by 2020.  

Gartner’s report, released on November 29, predicts global wearable shipments will hit 225 million in 2019, up by 25.8% from 2018’s shipments. Of an expected $42 billion in wearables end-user spending, Gartner says $16.2 billion, or 38.5%, will be spent on smartwatches. The Stamford, Connecticut-base company also forecast smartwatch average selling prices would drop to $210 in 2022 from $221.99 in 2018, despite Apple’s attempt to keep prices up (or at least stable).

Gartner forecast the most significant growth during the next four years will be for smartwatches, head-mounted displays, and ear-worn devices (primarily hearables).  In 2022 when smartwatch shipments will reach 115.2 million units, according to Gartner, ear-worn devices will surpass smartwatches with 158.43 million units. By 2022 ear-worn devices will work with virtual personal assistants (“I hear you, Alexa”) and take over many tasks now performed with smartphones. Better gaming and entertainment content that demand better technology will drive the growth in head-mounted displays (HMDs).

IDC’s December 3, 2018 report on global wearable shipments featured a 21.7% quarter-over-quarter growth in the third quarter of 2018 compared to 2017. Units shipped totaled 32.0 million for the quarter in 2018. Growing demand in the Asia/Pacific market, except for Japan, and new Fitbit, Garmin, and Huawei devices stemmed wearables’ slipping global shipment figures, says IDC. The U.S. is now the second largest market for wearables. As more features are added to smartwatches, according to IDC, the higher-priced devices may “move consumers upstream to smartwatches,” which as we mention below, will help the U.S. market. 

IDC noted geographic differences that define market opportunities for wearables companies. China’s market is twice the size of the U.S. market and has strong demand for basic devices for new users. The slowing U.S. market may respond to more feature-loaded and expensive devices. In addition, many other markets worldwide are in different development stages and present a range of vendor opportunities.