The first few months of any given year are a perfect time for evaluating the past 12-month success of different devices and classes of tech products, as well as trying to guess what comes next. For wearables in general, and smartwatches in particular, 2015 was a good though perhaps not stellar year, while 2016 is shaping up to be considerably better.
According to Gartner research, a total of 232 million wearable electronic devices were sold worldwide between last January and December, a number predicted to surge by a healthy 18.4 percent, to close to 275M units by the end of this year.
The original Apple Watch, alongside its imminent sequel or spin-off, and Tizen and Android-powered rivals, shall lead the growth, gaining a whopping 20 million sales, and jumping from 30 to 50M, then nearly 67 in 2017.
Mind you, those figures don’t account for so-called “sports watches”, wristbands or “other fitness monitors”, each of the three separate product categories being forecasted to enjoy a small popularity hike, to roughly 24, 35 and 21.1 million unit shipments in 2016.
Meanwhile, futuristic head-mounted displays like the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, Microsoft HoloLens or Sony PlayStation VR are for the first time included in a market report of this nature, having barely sold a combined 140K copies last year, but looking at rapidly rising 1.43 and 6.31 million box-office scores in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
Overall, the wearable segment is obviously not going to threaten the smartphones’ industry domination anytime soon, even if the former’s progresses will be mighty hard to match by the stagnating, saturating latter.