Smart analogue watch sales could kill regular smartwatches' chances

Fitness trackers continuing to drive wearable tech sales according to report
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Fitness trackers and smart analogue watches are leading the way for wearable tech sales according to the latest report from market research company CCS Insight.

In its latest global forecast, the firm expects 52 million fitness trackers to be sold in 2016, which could rise to a hefty 165 million by 2020. Fitbit, which recently announced the Charge 2 and the Flex 2 to accompany its launch of the Blaze and Alta earlier this year, is expected to be responsible for the majority of those sales.

CCS also references Xiaomi's affordable trackers like the Mi Band 2 will play its part in those rising tracker sales numbers.

The smartwatch drop off

So what about smartwatches? CCS Insight expects sales will continue to grow, but believes enthusiasm for full-touch smartwatches like the Apple Watch and the Gear S2 is waning. It does believe though that there's growing interest in smart analogue watches. We've already seen more traditional watches with added smarts pop up as watchmakers including the likes of Mondaine and Fossil fight back against the rise of the smartwatch.

Essential reading: The best smartwatches in the world

In regards to that smartwatch slump, CCS Insight's wearables analyst George Jijiashvili said, "The initial hype around full-touch smartwatches has subsided. The Apple Watch is the only product delivering meaningful volumes and even Apple is struggling to grow sales".

Jijiashvili added: "Our research indicates the next wave of growth will come from smart analogue watches. Compared with full-touch smartwatches, these offer the convenience of a traditional watch but with added smart functionalities such as activity and sleep monitoring, all delivered with six- to 12-month battery life".

That certainly doesn't bode well for Apple, Samsung or Google it seems with the Apple Watch 2, Samsung Gear S3 and new Android Wear watches all expected to land in the coming months.

Untethered watches and wearable cameras

Smart analogue watch sales could kill regular smartwatches' chances

Other interesting insights include the popularity of cellular-enabled smartwatches which are apparently most popular in China, specifically around products for children and the elderly. We've seen a host of kid-friendly smartwatches launch in China in recent months including Huawei's Disney Kids Smartwatch and the Xiaomi Mi Bunny.

In terms of sports watches, it believes these devices will account of 20 percent of the quantified-self category by 2020. Wearable camera sales meanwhile are expected to grow to 25 million by 2020 with 360-degree action cameras said to account for 15 percent of all wearable camera sales in four to five years time. GoPro is heavily rumoured to launch the successor to the Hero4 Black and as the leader of the action camera pack will no doubt account for a large portion of sales in the coming year.

VR sales are really taking off

2016 has been dubbed the year that VR really cements itself as a platform and the CCS Insight has been surprised by the popularity of the headsets from the likes of Google and Samsung. The company predicts that 14.5 million smartphone VR headsets will be sold in 2016.

So what about the major players like the Oculus Rift and the HTC Vive? The company estimates that around 2 million of these types of devices will be sold in 2016, jumping to 21 million in 2020. Facebook and HTC have yet to dish out any official numbers on how well the headsets have sold so far. The company believes a further wave of sales will be boosted by the arrival of Sony's PlayStation VR headset, which launches on 13 October.

It's different story for augmented reality headsets albeit not all that surprising when you consider the ones available are still very expensive. We're still waiting for a consumer version of Microsoft's HoloLens as well. CCS Insight forecasts sales of about 200,000 units in 2016. But it could grow to 7 million unit sales by 2020.

What do you make of the insights into wearable tech sales? Let us know in the comments section below.

Smart analogue watch sales could kill regular smartwatches' chances

How we test

Michael Sawh


Michael Sawh has been covering the wearable tech industry since the very first Fitbit landed back in 2011. Previously the resident wearable tech expert at Trusted Reviews, he also marshaled the features section of

He also regularly contributed to T3 magazine when they needed someone to talk about fitness trackers, running watches, headphones, tablets, and phones.

Michael writes for GQ, Wired, Coach Mag, Metro, MSN, BBC Focus, Stuff, TechRadar and has made several appearances on the BBC Travel Show to talk all things tech. 

Michael is a lover of all things sports and fitness-tech related, clocking up over 15 marathons and has put in serious hours in the pool all in the name of testing every fitness wearable going. Expect to see him with a minimum of two wearables at any given time.

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