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Gartner: Wearable device spending to total US$52 billion in 2020

06 Nov 2019
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Worldwide end-user spending on wearable devices will total US$52 billion in 2020 – an increase of 27% from 2019 – according to the latest forecast from Gartner.

In 2019, worldwide wearable devices end-user spending is on pace to reach US$41 billion.

End users will spend the most on smartwatches and smart clothing with spending growing 34% and 52% in 2020, respectively (see Table 1). 

“More users coming into the smartwatch segment are replacing wristbands with smartwatches,” says Gartner senior research director Ranjit Atwal. 

“While brand leaders, Apple Watch and Samsung Galaxy Watch command premium pricing in the smartwatch segment, lower-priced players such as Xiaomi and Huawei will counterbalance high-priced smartwatches with lower cost smartwatches. We expect average selling prices of smartwatches to decline 4.5% between 2020 and 2021.”

Smartwatches and ear-worn devices will take the lead in term of shipments in 2020, with smartwatch shipments forecast to total 86 million units and ear-worn wearable shipments reaching 70 million units. 

The crowded ear-worn wearable market – led by Apple (AirPods), Samsung (Galaxy Buds), Xiaomi (AirDots) and Bose (SoundSport), and new entrant Amazon - remains competitive. 

Other competitors – such as Nuheara, Microsoft and Starkey — are offering attractive products that fuel demand such as hearing enhancements and over-the-counter hearing augmentation devices.

Device Type

2018

2019

2020

2021

Smartwatch

12,412

17,047

22,803

27,388

Head-mounted display

5,354

7,183

10,609

15,501

Ear-worn

6,780

7,885

8,716

9,927

Sports watch

3,647

4,121

4,555

4,912

Wristband

3,405

3,194

3,115

3,055

Smart-clothing

848

1,151

1,746

2,202

Total

32,446

40,581

51,545

62,985

Table 1 – Worldwide Wearable Devices End-User Spending by Type, 2018-2021 (Millions of US Dollars) – Source: Gartner (October 2019)

One of the biggest influencers of increasing adoption of wearables is users who are new to the wearables market. 

Other influences include improved sensor accuracy, advances in miniaturisation and better user data protection.

Device makers will focus on smaller and smarter sensors, and those built into wearable devices will increasingly be capable of more accurate readings enabling more use cases.

Miniaturisation will also greatly benefit smart garments. Advances in miniaturisation have enabled device makers to integrate sensors that can track sleep or medical conditions into wearables that are almost invisible to end-users. 

“These discrete and nearly invisible wearables will particularly increase acceptance among reluctant end users,” says Gartner research director Alan Antin.

Gartner predicts that by 2023, miniaturising capabilities will advance so that one-tenth of all wearables will be unobtrusive to the user. 

Data security and privacy is another influencing factor in the growing number of new wearable users. 

Wearable device organisations and ecosystem providers will continue to invest in protecting user data. 

Gartner analysts expect end-user privacy will remain an influencing factor impacting adoption especially for healthcare use cases, where HIPAA in the U.S. and relevant local regulatory rules apply. 

GDPR in Europe and privacy regulations in other countries will also further the cause of securing data and privacy rights.

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