Shipments of wearable technology products are surging this year, with a new study predicting a 129% rise over 2013. The global wearable technology market forecast from analysts CCS Insight predicts shipments will soar from 9.7 million to 22 million by year’s end. By 2018, cumulative sales of the techy accessories will top 370 million, the study projects. Products that can be used for wellness campaigns are currently among the most popular items, and are likely to remain so toward the end of 2014.
“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,” said Marina Koytcheva, CCS Insight’s director of forecasting, in a statement.
With major technology players like Samsung, Google and now possibly Apple entering the wearable technology arena, wrist-worn devices will account for 87% of wearables to be shipped in 2018, CCS says. That tally breaks down as 68 million smartwatches and 50 million smart bands with no screen or minimal one-line display. The numbers may be impressive, but analysts caution that the devices need to advance more to drive shipments to the stratospheric levels seen by mobile devices.
“The wearables market is in its Stone Age right now,” said Koytcheva. “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.”
Currently, North America is a leader in the adoption of wearables: 5.2 million wearables were sold on the continent in 2013, and more than 40% of all wearable devices currently in use are there. “This is partially because many wearable companies are based in North America, but also because the region has proven eager to adopt new technology,” CCS Insight said in a release. Nonetheless, Western Europe is catching up – from 2016 on, the region is actually expected to buy more wearables than North America.