Report: Wearable Devices To Top $28 Billion in Sales in 2016

Wearable electronic device sales will increase 18.4 percent year over year to hit 274.6 million shipments in 2016, according to a new forecast from market research firm Gartner.

Of the $28.7 billion the company predicts sales of the devices will generate in revenue, $11.5 billion will come from smartwatches alone.

"From 2015 through 2017, smartwatch adoption will have 48 percent growth largely due to Apple popularizing wearables as a lifestyle trend. Smartwatches have the greatest revenue potential among all wearables through 2019, reaching $17.5 billion," said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement. "Though the sales of smartwatches are the one of the strongest types of wearables, their adoption will remain much below sales of smartphones."

The company forecasts that smartwatches will improve from 30.3 million shipments in 2015 to 50.4 million this year, en route to 66.7 million shipments in 2017. They will be outperformed only by Bluetooth headsets, 128.5 million of which will be sold this year, according to Gartner. Just more than 139 million of the headsets will be sold in 2017.

Wristbands will take the third spot this year with 34.97 million shipments and again next year with 44.1 million sales.

Sport watches will improve from 21 million units shipped in 2015 to 23.98 million sales this year and 26.93 million in 2017.

"Of all the fitness wearables, sports watches will be the one product category to maintain its average retail price over the next several years," said McIntyre in a news release. "Race runners, cyclists and divers will choose sports watches over smartwatches because the user interface, capabilities and durability are tailored to the needs of an athlete in their sport. Continued advances in sensors and analytics for sports watches will bring new capabilities that bolster average retail prices."

Chest strap devices will improve slightly from 12.88 million sales last year to 13.2 million sales this year before tanking to 7.99 million sales in 2017.

Head-mounted displays (HMDs), which were only sold approximately 140,000 times in 2015, will sell about 1.43 million units in 2016 and 6.31 million units in 2017.

"New virtual reality HMDs for consumers, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR and Microsoft HoloLens are expected to be available along with video games and entertainment content as well as business applications critical for their success," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner, in a prepared statement.

"Enterprise use of HMDs will also grow in the coming years with 26 percent of HMDs designed for business use in 2018," according to a news release. "HMDs will be purchased by businesses for use by employees for tasks such as equipment repair, inspections and maintenance. Workers also will use HMDs for viewing instructions and directions hands free while they are performing a task."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].