For years, some iPod users have worn those devices on their wrists as a watch. Now, millions of consumers will have a chance to own a bonafide smart watch.
The mass-market test for smart watches has arrived. The Samsung Galaxy Gear will arrive in the U.S. in October, and AT&T has become the first carrier to offer the Pebble smart watch. Speculation surrounding a so-called Apple iWatch pegs its release date around mid-2014.
In a new proprietary forecast for the smart watch market, BI Intelligence has published a half-dozen charts and datasets illustrating the potential for smart watches within the wearable computing space and mobile.
Here are the dynamics and numbers driving the emerging smart watch market:
- We forecast 91.6 million smartwatch units sold globally in 2018. With an average selling price of about $US100, that translates to a $US9.2 billion market by 2018. Subscribers can download a spreadsheet and charts that show year-by-year estimates and the numerical assumptions behind our market forecast.
- Through just the first half of 2013, the Kickstarter-launched Pebble watch has shipped 93,000 smart watches and has taken over 275,000 pre-orders.
- A mass-market smart watch would be the first new mobile device since the smartphone to upgrade or enhance a ubiquitous consumer product — the wristwatch. A watch with an Internet connection isn’t as alien a concept as Google Glass.
- And watches are a huge addressable market. It varies by age and gender, but consumer surveys reveal a slight majority of the U.S. and global populations still wear a watch, around 55%.
- Even if only a minority of watch-wearers upgrade to Internet-connected and app-centric smart watches, that’s still a huge market and a boon for growth-hungry tech players and app makers.
- In the future, about one in 20 smartphones will be paired in some way with smart watches.
- The market in mainstream, wearable computing has so far been anchored by smart fitness bracelets, and pioneered by Pebble, but mass-market smart watches will absorb some of the fitness wearables market, and become the wearables category-leader for the ordinary consumer.
- Smart watches will have screens, even if they’re tiny, and potentially run software that allow them to serve as a robust extension to smartphone operating systems and apps.
In full, the report:
- Analyses the data showing that smart watches will turn out to account for one-third of the wearable computing market
- Explains why the key to the smart watch market is the “attach rate” the percentage of smartphone owners who will acquire a smart watch to complement their phone
- Breaks down the attach rate and smart watch sales between smartphone owners, new smartphone purchasers, and wristwatch-wearers
- Explains why app-centric smart watches represent the natural evolution of the digital watch
- Looks at how the smart watch market has been sized by different research firms and compares their estimates with ours
- Examines hints that Apple’s foray into a smart watch may not be a stand-alone watch but a modular system of compatible and differently styled wrist-worn wearable devices for different lifestyles
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