CCS Insight Forecast Predicts Apple Watch and Hearables to Fuel Growth in Wearables


  • Research firm CCS Insight forecasts 71 million smartwatches will be sold in 2018, doubling to 140 million in 2022. Global sales of the Apple Watch reached 16 million units.
  • Strong growth is predicted in the hearables category — smart headphones that offer capabilities beyond listening to music. CCS Insight expects sales of hearables to hit 30 million units in 2022.
  • In 2017, connected watches for kids delivered the largest volume of smartwatch sales, with 25 million being shipped in China alone.
  • Sales of fitness trackers fell by 18% in 2017. Two companies, Fitbit and Huami, now account for 80% of the market.

London, 22 February 2018: The latest forecast published by technology research firm CCS Insight shows worldwide wearables sales growing an average of 20% each year over the next five years, becoming a $29 billion market with 243 million unit sales by 2022.

Smartwatches continue to be the product most widely associated with wearables. The Apple Watch has been a trailblazer in this category, with sales growing 60% in 2017 to 16 million units. CCS Insight estimates that about a quarter of Apple's sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 were made up of the cellular-enabled Apple Watch.

George Jijiashvili, senior analyst for wearables at CCS Insight, comments, "Apple has become the market leader for smartwatches. Sales volumes have exceeded expectations and the introduction of a cellular-enabled model has pushed up the value of its sales, which we estimate at $5 billion in 2017."

Looking ahead to the Baselworld event in Switzerland in March, Jijiashvili notes, "It's not surprising that traditional watchmakers are looking over their shoulders nervously at Apple given the significant slice of the market it has secured in just three years. Our projections show that in 2018 Apple will come close to matching worldwide sales of Swiss-made watches, which sold 24 million units in 2017".

However, it's not just traditional watchmakers that are facing pressure from Apple. CCS Insight's forecast signals that Google-powered Android Wear smartwatches have lost momentum, estimating just under 5 million units were shipped in 2017 and predicts fewer than 6 million will sell in 2018.

Jijiashvili observes, "Google has paid a heavy price for its recent lack of commitment to Android Wear. Attention seems to have shifted to its Pixel smartphones and Google Home products at the expense of smartwatches. To stay competitive and support the growing number of traditional watchmakers making smartwatches such as Fossil, Guess, Movado and TAG Heuer, there needs to be a major update to Android Wear in 2018."

CCS Insight believes that Apple's success has also put pressure on the smart sports watch category. Jijiashvili notes, "We've concluded that the Apple Watch's improved capabilities in health, sports and fitness tracking mean sales of smart sport watches have peaked. The future success of companies such as Garmin will depend on their ability to differentiate their products. They'll need a razor-sharp focus on specialist sports usage rather than going after the recreational health features that Apple now offers."

Another notable highlight of CCS Insight's latest forecast is exceptionally strong shipments of connected watches for children in the Chinese market. The research firm estimates that 25 million of these watches were sold there in 2017.

Jijiashvili comments, "The success of kids' watches in China is impressive. There's strong support from Chinese mobile network operators and we're expecting further growth in 2018 as 4G networks improve to support even more advanced features." However, Jijiashvili cautions that growth beyond China remains elusive: "Although we recorded sales of about 1 million units in the US in 2017, we don't expect the kind of volumes we've seen in China. And in Europe, privacy concerns and regulatory issues have cut the market to just a few thousand units."

In 2017, CCS Insight estimates there were 1.5 million hearable devices sold worldwide, and it expects the market to quadruple in 2018 to 6 million units. Jijiashvili notes, "We forecast healthy growth in the hearables market, particularly if Apple updates its already successful AirPods with smarter features to join other hearables from brands such as Bragi and Jabra in this burgeoning sector. Our enthusiasm for hearables is underpinned by our expectation of even faster growth over the next five years, taking the market to an impressive 30 million unit sales in 2022".

CCS Insight's report also indicates that fitness trackers sold 40 million units in 2017 but the market has weakened — it was 23% lower than its peak in 2016. Says Jijiashvili, "The fitness tracker market is now dominated by two large players, Fitbit and Huami, which account for about 80% of global shipments. Huami has grabbed the top spot from Fitbit as it exploits its enormous home market advantage in China."

The new report also assesses the market beyond wrist-worn wearables, including hearables, which are defined as smart wireless headphones, earphones or earbuds that connect to smartphones and other compatible devices over Bluetooth, offering additional capabilities beyond audio features.

More details of CCS Insight extensive wearables research service can be found at: www.ccsinsight.com/our-services/wearables.

Notes to editors

CCS Insight is a leading provider of wearables-related research. Its wearables forecast covers numerous product segments including smartwatches, quantified self-devices (fitness, activity and sports trackers) and hearables. The wearables forecast presents three scenarios (core, low and high), which map different market developments.

The forecast is part of a broader suite of wearables research including an extensive database of over 700 wearable devices, regular category reports and monthly updates on the latest developments.

About CCS Insight

CCS Insight is a global analyst company focussing on mobile communications and the Internet. It provides comprehensive services that are tailored to meet the needs of individual clients, helping them make sense of the connected world. Follow @CCSInsight on Twitter or learn more at www.ccsinsight.com.

For further information contact:
Hollie Bridgland
Harvard PR
Tel: +44 20 7861 2842
E-mail:  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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