Wearables shipments to grow 129pc to hit 22m units this year

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Shipments to grow more than six times to 135 million in 2018, with accumulative sales over the next four years reaching 370 million 

Shipments of wearable products are expected to grow from 9.7 million in 2013 to 22 million this year, up 129 per cent on an annual basis.

This is according to the latest global wearable technology market forecast from analysts CCS Insight, which predicted that shipments of the products will hit 135 million in 2018.

This would result in cumulative sales of wearables over the next four years reaching 370 million, with CCS Insight forecasting that 14 times as many wearables will be sold in 2018 than last year.

Its forecast predicts that wrist-worn devices will account for 87 per cent of wearables shipped in 2018 – comprising 68 million smartwatches and 50 million smart bands with no screen or with a minimal, one-line display.

In 2018, two per cent of wearables sold will be glass wear, according to CCS Insight, while tokens, clip-ons and jewellery will make up three per cent of the market. It added that half of wearable sales in that year will be devices that enhance a consumer’s smartphone experience.

The analyst firm also expects smartwatches to displace fitness bands and become the most used form of wearables as the product line broadens its appeal, adds functions and lowers prices.

It added a smart wearable category becoming much more prominent for the remainder of this year will be standalone cellular watches, and expects a number of high-profile devices with their own SIM cards announced in the coming months.However, these devices will face significant challenges as people will be reluctant to take out another contract with their mobile operator, it claimed.

CCS Insight director of forecasting Marina Koytcheva said: “Wearables are poised to be the perfect gift for the person who has everything this Christmas. We believe this will fuel strong growth in the final quarter of 2014 for smart bands, particularly fitness trackers, which will account for more than half of the 35 million wearables in use at end of 2014.”

However, Koytcheva cautions: “The wearables market is in its Stone Age right now. There needs to be huge improvements to broaden their appeal. This is particularly acute when it comes to devices for women: wearables need to quickly move on from black, clunky devices; fortunately we’re starting to see the first steps in this direction.

“The market is still in a chaotic stage of development, and there’s still a huge amount of uncertainty. Every category faces different risks: the way people use wearables is still changing, one type of device could kill sales in another category, people are unsure whether some wearables are socially acceptable, and intellectual property rights are a minefield for the dozens of start-ups entering the wearables market.

“The market could be changed beyond recognition if a major player like Apple decides to get into the game. History shows us that when Apple enters a market it can reshape the way people think about a product.”

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