Success of Apple Watch Means More Growth in Sales of Wearable Technology

Research firm CCS Insight forecasts global sales of smart wearable devices will double between 2018 and 2022 to 233 million units

Demand for smartwatches remains solid, but more importantly wearers are more engaged with their devices

The success of Apple Watch is driving broader investment in smartwatches, and owners of Android phones will create the next wave of growth as better Wear OS smartwatches emerge

Smart hearables will be an important wearable category in the next four years


London, 23 October 2018: The latest forecast published by CCS Insight indicates solid demand for smart wearable devices in 2018. The firm calculates that 117 million devices will be sold in 2018, doubling to 233 million in 2022 with a market value of over $27 billion.

Smartwatches continue to gain in popularity, primarily thanks to the success of market leader Apple, which extended its product range with the launch of its Series 4 Apple Watch in September. The company is also offering the Apple Watch at the broadest range of prices so far, making it even more accessible to iPhone owners.

CCS Insight is more positive than ever about the future of the smartwatch market. Supporting this view is its recent smartwatch user survey, which found that more than 90 percent of respondents use their smartwatch most days.

CCS Insight's senior analyst for wearables, George Jijiashvili, notes, "The combination of Apple's success with its Watch and the high engagement levels we're seeing among smartwatch owners reflects the value people are now placing on these products. It's a step change from a few years ago, when we consistently saw high levels of abandonment from early smartwatch users, who quickly became disenchanted with initial products".

CCS Insight believes the high engagement among current smartwatch owners will provoke a wave of replacement sales in coming years. The company believes Apple is best positioned to take advantage of this, particularly with the latest update to the Apple Watch series. However, it also notes that growing awareness and satisfaction with smartwatches among technology enthusiasts will help to broaden the potential market, with wrist-worn wearables from new brands making progress.

CCS Insight analyst Jijiashvili adds, "The Apple Watch has done well because it's bought by iPhone owners. People with Android smartphones represent a far bigger market and we believe that conditions are right for the next wave of smartwatch adoption thanks to an ever-improving selection of smartwatches from fashion and consumer electronics brands hit the market".

The research firm notes that Fitbit's smartwatches have seen solid uptake during 2018 and it is also positive about the opportunity for smartwatches powered by the recently revamped Wear OS from Google, particularly when united with an updated technology platform from chipmaker Qualcomm.

Commenting, Jijiashvili says, "We're hugely encouraged that established watchmakers such as Fossil are betting their future on a wide range of smartwatches for several fashion brands such as Diesel, Michael Kors and Skagen, and premium watchmakers such as Louis Vuitton, Montblanc and TAG Heuer continue to invest in this area. When you combine this with the renewed interest in smartwatches from leading smartphone makers such as Huawei and Samsung, you can see a groundswell of activity that signals a positive outlook for the market".

CCS Insight's forecast indicates 85 million smartwatches will be sold in 2019, growing to 137 million units in 2022. The forecast covers a wide range of smartwatches, including smart sports watches, smart analogue watches with more-limited capabilities, smartwatches with built-in connected location trackers specifically designed for children, and smartwatches with cellular connectivity.

The company believes that the growing proportion of cellular-enabled smartwatches is a good opportunity for mobile network operators. Jijiashvili notes "As cellular-enabled smartwatches take an increasing share of the smartwatch market, operators have the chance to derive new revenue from the additional monthly fees they can charge users, particularly as the ability to offer one number on multiple devices continues to grow". However, he cautions that "operators must ensure they don't get greedy with the fees they charge to connect smartwatches or they risk dampening demand for the promising new product category".

CCS Insight believes growing adoption of basic cellular-enabled watches, predominantly aimed at kids, is an important factor in the wearables market. The demand for these devices is especially strong in China and there are signs of interest in other regions, despite modest uptake so far, partly because of privacy concerns. However, several mobile operators beyond China are assessing the potential of these devices. A notable example is Vodafone, which now offers a range of wearable products as part of its V by Vodafone initiative; the range includes a smartwatch for children.

CCS Insight also notes the increasingly important role of Chinese supplier Huami. It expects Huami to make and sell more than 26 million devices with its own brands and with that of its partner Xiaomi in 2018. At present, most of these are fitness trackers, but more than 2 million units will be smart sports watches. Huami's success has buoyed the worldwide fitness tracker market, which will record total sales of 43 million units in 2018, after a dip to 39 million in 2017.

Jijiashvili comments, "Deeper analysis of the fitness tracker market signals solid demand in China even though demand in Western markets has stalled. Fitbit, the brand synonymous with fitness trackers, has struggled to maintain its growth trajectory in fitness trackers but is hoping to offset this with the recent success of its smartwatch product line-up".

Smart hearables are another important wearable device category CCS Insight highlights in its latest forecast. It believes the growing number of smart connected headphones will boost sales and it projects 27 million hearables will be sold in 2022. Jijiashvili says, "We've seen some excellent products in this area over the past year from companies like Bragi, Jabra, Samsung and Sony. It's only a matter of time before Apple adds more functions to its AirPods, which will see them fall into our definition of smart hearables. If this happens, Apple could kick-start this device category like it shook up the smartwatch market with the Apple Watch".

Wearable device shipments, worldwide, 2015-2022
Source: CCS Insight wearables forecast (October 2018)

More details of CCS Insight's 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 (headphones with at least one additional feature beyond audio, for example, a heart-rate monitor, activity counter or an onboard processor for a digital assistant such as Alexa). 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 800 wearable devices, regular category reports and monthly updates on the latest developments. CCS Insight's latest smartwatch survey was conducted in August 2018 in the UK and US. It interviewed 2,000 smartwatch owners; findings are published in CCS Insight's End-User Survey: Smartwatches, October 2018.

About CCS Insight

CCS Insight is a global analyst company focussing on technology. 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 (0)20 7861 2404
E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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