Smartwatch sales will double in next four years

Apple Watch expected to dominate, but Google's Wear OS will catch up.
Written by Liam Tung, Contributing Writer

Apple's new Watch Series 4 is likely to give smartwatch sales a boost this year and help the category dominate wearables in the next four years.

Analyst IDC is predicting that wearable sales in 2018 will grow by just 6.2 percent to 122.6 million body gadgets compared to 2017 sales of 115 million units.

But smartwatches will buck that trend, with IDC expecting smartwatch shipments to grow 39 percent on 2017 shipments of 33 million units to 46.2 million in 2018. Apple Watch accounts for just under half of all smartwatch shipments.

And by 2022, the analyst expects smartwatch sales to have increased two-fold to 94.3 million units by which time Apple's market share will have fallen to 36 percent, despite Watch shipments rising to 34 million.

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Gadgets that don't support third-party applications are the weak spot on the overall wearables market, according to IDC. It's forecasting no growth in wristband sales over the next four years, while other products such as earwear and clothing will pick up.

Worldwide 'earwear' shipments of 2.1 million in 2018 and are forecasted to grow to 12.3 million by 2022 as manufacturers add functionality such as fitness tracking, coaching, real-time language translation and possibly smart assistant features.

Image: IDC

"The slowdown in the worldwide wearables market is a sign that this is a market in transition instead of a market in slowdown," said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC's wearables.

He expects wristbands will continue to be relevant to wearables, but they'll be a simpler and cheap counterpart to smartwatches that may add "smartwatch-like" experiences.

IDC is forecasting Apple to ship 21.7 million watchOS devices in 2018, compared to 4 million Samsung Tizen-based smartwatches, 4.4 million Android Wear OS devices, and 8.7 million Android smartwatches.

The analyst is expecting Wear OS to be the fastest growing smartwatch OS in coming years, with shipments growing five fold to 19.9 million by 2022, leaving it in third spot behind Android-powered smartwatches, and the Apple Watch.


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