According to the latest quarterly research from Futuresource Consulting, consumer demand for wearable technology is rising fast, with Q3 global shipments totaling 12.7 million units, up 40% from just over nine million units in Q3 2013.
Oliver Rowntree, Market Analyst at Futuresource Consulting, says "The wearables market is definitely one to watch, with our forecasts predicting sales of 52 million units across all wearable categories this year, up 32% from 2013."
The study anticipates that 39% of this year's activity will be in Q4, as wearable tech provides an appealing gifting option for consumers, and expects further acceleration in 2015 as smartwatches become more widely adopted, with a 44% growth rate driving the market to 74 million units shipped next year.
While Futuresource anticipates significant growth in the category overall, this is not the case for every wearable product. The brand landscape is dominated by fitness companies, because of the size of the fitness market within wearables.
Fitbit has effectively consolidated its significant lead in activity trackers, Samsung comfortably leads in the nascent smartwatch market, and Garmin retains a strong lead in the traditional fitness category, says the report.
The report indicates that the growth outlook for traditional fitness will be considerably less aggressive than for emerging categories such as activity trackers and smartwatches, with pedometers in particular seeing rapid decline.
Rowntree says “… we expect connected watches (incorporating smartwatches and wireless watches)… to experience extremely strong growth… reaching 83 million unit shipments in total by 2018. "
According to the report, Apple should a significant impact upon the connected watch market with its entry in 2015, which is well-positioned to capitalize on premium brand positioning, and an aesthetic level that might be expected for wearable technology worn as jewelry as well as technology.
Rowntree concludes that "… longer-term growth is dependent upon how compelling a use emerges for existing wearable products… there remain some uncertainties around the usage models… and whether a compelling raison d'étre for the category will develop…"
For more from FutureSource, including detailed forecasts for key countries, please visit here.