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Smartwatch optimism not dampened by harsh reality

kid confused by smartwatch

Despite wearables industry posting mediocre results over the last couple of quarters, CCS Insight has released new research which anticipates healthy growth over the next couple of years.

The latest figures anticipate smartwatch sales will be 43 million over the course of 2017, with sales doubling over the next four years to 86 million units in 2021. While smartwatches have grabbed the headlines, this is only one part of the pie which also includes fitness bands, smart clothing (including footwear), hearables and wearable cameras.

Taking all of these areas into account overall market value is predicted to grow in value from just over $10 billion in 2017 to almost $17 billion by 2021. This is certainly an optimistic forecast considering smartwatch momentum has stuttered due to them being little more than a fashion accessory currently.

“We had initially anticipated that smart analogue watches would be the major source of sales volumes in the coming years, but the watches available over the past 18 months have failed to live up to expectations,” said George Jijiashvili of CCS Insight.

“The Apple Watch has been the trailblazer for this category. Its success prompted traditional watchmakers to enter the smartwatch market. Fossil, Guess Watches and TAG Heuer were among the first to embrace the opportunity.

“It’s clear that companies like Apple and Samsung have recognised the success of performance fitness watches and have implemented more and more fitness features into their own smartwatches to broaden their appeal. There’s currently an air of cautious optimism among smartwatch makers, especially as sales of fitness bands appear to have stalled.”

While stand-alone functionality (i.e. not being tethered to a smartphone) would be a major step forward, so would additional features. This is an area which Counterpoint Research feels is about to take off.

The team here believe AI powered wearables will grow 376% annually in 2017 to reach 60 million units, with one in three smartwatches shipped across the year to be AI powered.

“Wearables haven’t seen the expected momentum so far because they have struggled on the lines of a stronger human computer interaction (HCI) which can enable powerful experiences,” said Parv Sharma of Counterpoint Research.

“However, the integration of AI into the wearables will change how we interact with or use wearables. AI will not only enhance the user experience to drive higher usage of wearables but also will make wearables smarter and intelligent to help us achieve more.”

The wearables revolution has promised a lot consistently, but delivered very little to date. Perhaps more advanced AI solutions, as well as increased consumer acceptance of the technology could provide the segment with a much needed boost.

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One comment

  1. andy tiller 17/03/2017 @ 5:35 pm

    I understand “AI-powered wearables” might just mean integrated voice recognition. Is it really AI, or another case of the concept being Artificially Inflated?

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