Those betting big on wearable computing believe an assorted new crop of gadgets — mostly worn on the wrist or as eyewear — will transform the way in which we interact with the rest of our devices.
But, will they? Overall consumer awareness is still low.
Speculation, therefore, on the future market for wearables devices is a confusing mix of scepticism and hype.
In a recent report from BI Intelligence, we make sense of the muddle and analyse various growth forecasts for the wearable computing market. We also explore the products and prospects of each component market – including bracelets, smartwatches, and eyewear, examine the various barriers to entry for each, and look at how wearables could bring along new platform wars.
Take a look at this chart that shows the various market estimates for wearable computing:
IMS Research: According to IMS Research, the wearables market is poised to grow from 14 million devices shipped in 2011 to as many as 171 million units shipped by 2016. However, the IMS forecast was issued in September 2012, before the media was awash with announcements and conjecture regarding new wearables devices in the pipeline.
ABI Research: ABI Research pegs the wearables market at 485 million annual device shipments by 2018. We believe this number is too high because of the uncertainty surrounding eyewear and smartwatches.
BI Intelligence: Our own projection falls between the ABI and IMS forecasts. We believe that smartwatches won’t be a runaway consumer hit, but that fitness bands, as well as pocketable activity-tracking devices like the Shine, will find a broad consumer market as well as deep niche markets in the medical industry and the enterprise. We see global annual wearable device unit shipments crossing the 100 million milestone in 2014, and reaching 300 million units five years from now.
At a $42 average selling price — which accounts for both rudimentary low-cost clip-on devices and high-price specialty medical wearables — that adds up to a $12 billion market by 2018.