With demand for tablets and smartphones stabilizing, manufacturers are hoping to see the market for smartwatches take off in 2015. And they have every reason to be optimistic: A predicted 10.8 million smartwatches will ship this year in the U.S. alone.
Once again, the wearable technologies of the moment were in strong evidence at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Wristbands that flash when a call comes in; smart glasses that sense when the wearer is getting tired; and a veritable swarm of “smartwatches,” or intelligent wrist-worn devices that will one day park your car for you or remotely control your domestic heating system and window blinds.
According to the latest figures from the U.S. Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), smartwatches will be the top-selling devices in 2015. The CEA predicts unit sales of 10.8 million in the U.S. this year – three and a half times the figure for 2014. Moreover, market researchers expect sales of smartwatches to hit €2.6 billion in 2015, which is four and a half times last year’s total. That figure accounts for more than half of the total projected revenues from wearables in Europe in 2015 (€4.55 billion) and represents an increase of 22% on 2014.
Apple Watch expected to sell well
The long-awaited Apple Watch, set to become the star on the smartwatch scene, is due for release very soon. Analysts from U.S. investment consultants Evercore are forecasting that sales of the Apple Watch alone will be close to €7.8 billion in 2015.
“Apple will position its smartwatch as the must-have product,” predicts Rouven Hohendorff, an innovation analyst at Hamburg-based trend research specialists TRENDONE.
Apple Watch promises a number of compelling innovations, including a gentle vibration to notify the wearer of an incoming call and the ability to function as a cash card and access card in one. “The watch also detects its owner’s pulse,” explains Hohendorff, who has been conducting “micro-trend” research, the search for innovations that impact a single industry, at TRENDONE for many years. The research specialists publish their selection of the 250 most compelling innovations every month. If topics can be clustered, then a micro-trend becomes a “macro-trend,” as is the case with wearables.
“Two years ago, innovations in the wearables domain were few and far between,” observes Hohendorff. “Today, one in every 10 of the innovations we identify is connected with wearable technology in some way.” Wearables include items of clothing such as bands that analyze a person’s movements to provide early warning of an epileptic seizure; shooting sleeves for basketball players that help them monitor and improve their shooting technique; and smart rings that display Twitter updates.
2015: market for 25 million smart watches
Of all the trending innovations around, it would seem that smartwatches are the wearables that will enjoy the strongest growth in 2015. While 2013 saw 1.2 million smartwatches shipped worldwide, that figure jumped to 7.4 million just a year later.
Now, based on data compiled by online statistics portal statista.de, market researchers are predicting that global unit sales of smartwatches will skyrocket to 24.92 million in 2015. Smart glasses don’t even come a close second, despite a growing presence in the healthcare and manufacturing industries and a raft of promising potential applications in the B2B sector. Although unit sales of smart glasses grew from virtually zero in 2013 to just over 2 million units in 2014, market researchers expect global shipments to be in the region of10 million units in 2015.
A study by SAP partner Accenture entitled, “Engaging the Digital Consumer in the New Connected World”, confirms this development.
While purchase plans for smartphones and tablets are beginning to slow, no other intelligent device ̶ be it a wearable fitness monitor, 3D printer, or personal drone ̶ will be as much in demand over the next three to five years as the smartwatch.
There is still one wrench in the works: usability. 24% of smartwatch users, 22% of smart glasses consumers, and 21% of smart clothing wearers complained that their intelligent devices were too complicated to use and unreliable. Not surprisingly, “ease of use” is the key purchase criterion identified by the 40,000 global consumers who responded to Accenture’s survey.
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- Development worldwide, ABI Research, 2/2014
- Development of wearables in the U.S.
Top Image: Apple