Smartwatches and hearables will fuel wearable growth, forecast says

The Apple Watch is expected to lead the pack over the next five years
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Smartwatches and hearables are set to fuel continued wearable growth over the next five years, as total sales are expected to reach 243 million units.

That's according to research firm CCS Insight, who indicate that 71 million smartwatches will be shipped this year, with that figure almost doubling to 140 million by 2022. Hearables, meanwhile, after estimates show 1.5 million devices were sold last year, are expected to leap forward to 6 million units in 2018 and 30 million in half a decade's time.

In contrast, the research points to the fitness tracker market as a weakened area, after the 40 million units shipped in 2017 represented a 23% drop-off from the previous year.

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With regard to smartwatches, the Apple Watch is expected to lead the space, with its sales growing 60% in 2017 to 16 million devices — of which, a quarter are estimated by CCS Insight to be the cellular variant of the Apple Watch Series 3.

"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," said George Jijiashvili, senior analyst for wearables at CCS Insight.

And though the smartwatch category is expected to continue growing over the coming years, Jijiashvili also pointed out that it's not just traditional watch brands that will see a decline.

Citing a lack of commitment to Android Wear from Google, in favour of its Pixel smartphones and smart home platform, CCS indicates that watches harbouring the platform only accounted for 5 million shipments in 2017, a number that will only increase to 6 million this year.

This latest forecast from CCS Insight sits in the same line as other predictions we've seen over the past 12 months, with smart clothing also touted as a growing area of the wearable tech industry.

While it would come as no surprise to see smartwatches and hearables see the kind of development projected in this forecast, it's always worth sprinkling a bit of salt over forecasts such as this. After all, only time will tell just where the market leads, and which areas will see the most success.

Smartwatches and hearables will fuel wearable growth, forecast says

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Conor Allison


Conor moved to Wareable Media Group in 2017, initially covering all the latest developments in smartwatches, fitness trackers, and VR. He made a name for himself writing about trying out translation earbuds on a first date and cycling with a wearable airbag, as well as covering the industry’s latest releases.

Following a stint as Reviews Editor at Pocket-lint, Conor returned to Wareable Media Group in 2022 as Editor-at-Large. Conor has become a wearables expert, and helps people get more from their wearable tech, via Wareable's considerable how-to-based guides. 

He has also contributed to British GQ, Wired, Metro, The Independent, and The Mirror. 

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