Wearables market may top 125M units in 2017, helped by Apple Watch

in Apple Watch
The global wearables market is likely to hit 125.5 million devices this year, according to new research data, with the Apple Watch's share getting a small boost from an unusually strong region -- the Middle East and Africa.

The 2017 forecast points to a 20.4 percent rise over the 104.3 million units estimated to have shipped in 2016, International Data Corporation said this week. Ramon Llamas, a research manager with IDC's Wearables team, suggested that the market is "entering a new phase" in which device makers are trying to refine hardware and software. The types of devices will diversify, he said, and also improve their usefulness with functions like 4G cellular. Cellular support has been rumored for the third-generation Apple Watch, along with features such as "smart" bands.

Most of the year's wearable sales are expected to stem from "basic" watches, defined as ones that don't run third-party apps, including fitness/GPS watches from the likes of Fitbit and Garmin. Smartwatches -- such as the Apple Watch and Android Wear products -- will probably surge in 2019, according to IDC, as cellular support becomes more commonplace.

Contrary to overall trends, the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region saw smart wearables grow much faster than basic ones in the first quarter, up 64.9 percent year-over-year versus basic devices' 16.8 percent. The Samsung Gear S3 and Series 1 and 2 Apple Watches were "particularly well received," IDC said. The S3 is already available in an 4G version.

Samsung is estimated to have captured 13.4 percent of Q1 MEA sales, beating Apple's 12.7 percent. Fitbit -- typically a commanding presence in the wearables market -- managed only 10.9 percent.

Apple hasn't officially disclosed Watch sales however, making those numbers uncertain. Instead the company has only made broad claims, for instance saying that March quarter sales doubled year-over-year.

The MEA region is moreover a minor contributor in the wearables arena, as even a forecast annual growth of 20.9 percent in 2017 would still result in 2.9 million units.


  • Reply 1 of 4
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,141member
    For every 10 Apple Watches I see in the wild, I see 1 other smart watch. Apple Watch owns this category. 
  • Reply 2 of 4
    slurpy said:
    For every 10 Apple Watches I see in the wild, I see 1 other smart watch. Apple Watch owns this category. 
    I see tons of Garmin and Fitbit watches, as well as the occasional Samsung watch. So anecdotal evidence is not a reliable indicator of market activity. For instance, considering that Windows phones are actually still a thing in Washington state lots of people in that neck of the woods are convinced that Microsoft gave up on them prematurely. (Seriously, you see them claiming such on the Microsoft forums and bitterly scapegoating Nadella for allegedly causing the failure of Microsoft Mobile all the time.) I will admit that finding an Android Wear device is a task that rates somewhere between a needle in a haystack, teeth on a chicken and pigs flying however. Probably because Google refuses to allow anyone to manufacture an Android Wear device that costs less than $100. (Seriously. Huawei and Xiaomi wanted to but Google did not let them. Xiaomi released their own devices instead, which sell pretty well in China.)
  • Reply 3 of 4
    jbdragonjbdragon Posts: 2,110member
    I see Apple Watches all over the place. Here at work, there's 4 people including myself with a Apple Watch. A girl just for a 38mm a couple weeks ago. One guy replaced his Fitbit with one. I also notice the Apple Watch being worn by a number of people in TV shows. I'm just not seeing a lot of anything else out there so much anymore. I've owned a couple Fitbits in the past and they ended up broken after a short period of time. It just wasn't worth it. Android Wear market looks dead. Motorola, who I thought was doing pretty good and had the most popular Smart Watch at the time, the 360, I don't see that anywhere any longer. I can easily spot Apple Watches all the time. As for China, they're in their own little world there. Google is almost non-existent. They have their own Android App stores. One reason why virus run so rampant over there in China on Android!!! Cheap crap, and copy everything, the China way!!! As long as they don't sell outside of China, they can't get sued.
  • Reply 4 of 4
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,767member

    Even if Apple just cleaned up the high end and thus only had 15% of the overall market (which you know they did). They would take in 95% of all profits.

    That's all it takes. This segment in 3-4 years will be a very big profit center for Apple, especially because the very tight coupling of I see coming between Airpod, watch and a future AR device that look like normal glasses.
    edited June 2017 badmonk
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