How poorly are wearables performing? So poorly that eMarketer was just forced to significantly reduce its U.S. sales estimates.
The research firm previously expected usage among U.S. adults to grow more than 60%, this year. But, according to a revised forecast, the market with grow by just 24.7%.
This year, 39.5 million US adults will use a wearable device (with Web connectivity) at least once a month -- far less than the 63.7 million previously forecast.
Smart watches haven’t caught on in large numbers, primarily because of their high price point and lack of definitive use case, eMarketer suggests.
“Before Apple launched its iWatch, fitness trackers dominated the wearables space, and consumer surveys consistently found that tracking health and fitness was the main reason people were interested in wearables,” Cathy Boyle, an eMarketer analyst, notes in a new report.
Consumers also reported high price-sensitivity.
“Without a clear use case for smart watches -- which have more features than fitness trackers, but significantly overlap with smartphone functionality -- the more sophisticated, expensive devices have not caught on as quickly as expected,” Boyle said.
No surprisingly, younger people are most likely to user wearables. Next year, roughly 30% of adults between 18-and-34 will be wearables users -- far higher than the 17.6% estimate for the overall population.
“Younger adults are getting into the wearables market primarily with fitness trackers,” Monica Peart, a forecasting analyst at eMarketer, commented in the same report. “The lower price point and clear use case make sense for this group.”
Also of note, there appears to be a gender shift taking shape among wearables users. The earliest adopters tended to be male, but, as fitness trackers began to drive category growth, the user base became less skewed. By 2018, more wearables users will be female, eMarketer expects.
All told, usage of wearables will reach just 15.8% of the population, this year. According ton eMarketer, that penetration rate is only expected to grow to 21.1% by 2020.