Smartwatch sales will soar, new research predicts

Global shipments of app-enabled smartwatches will reach 36 million by 2018, Juniper says.

Katie Evans

More smartwatches will grace consumers’ wrists over the next few years, a new report from Juniper Research reveals. Global shipments of app-enabled smartwatches will reach 36 million  by 2018, up from just over 1 million this year, according to Juniper.

A smartwatch, according to Juniper, is an accessory that can be worn on a user’s wrist that works with a smartphone or tablet via an app. The report says that shipments of smartwatches will be driven by what it calls a multi-function type of smartwatch capable of advanced features and functions such as tracking fitness and sports activities, making payments, and buying and redeeming tickets. That more advanced watch differs from the more limited dashboard or console watch, which typically is limited to displaying calls and texts, or other alerts such as Twitter updates.

Shipments of the more advanced multi-function smartwatches will rise, Juniper predicts, as such mobile device heavyweights as Samsung and Apple Inc. begin to offer versions of these more sophisticated watches. Both companies have recently secured trademarks and patents related to such advanced smartwatch technology, Juniper says.

“By educating and publicizing this device segment to the consumer, Apple and Samsung will indeed act as a catalyst to the market,” writes report author Nitin Bhas. “In addition to being a key influencer, these players’ entry into the smartwatch segment will benefit existing smartwatch players—providing an increase in awareness and adoption of other wearable devices.”

Currently, there are few vendors manufacturing any type of smartwatch, Juniper says in its report. These include Sony Corp., Pebble, Cookoo from ConnecteDevice Ltd., MetaWatch from Meta Watch Ltd., Martian Watches, and I’m Watch from I’m SpA P. 

There are, however, a number of apps available in the Apple App Store and Google Play that will work with such watches.  For example, according to Sony, there are more than 200 smartphone apps available for the Sony Smart Watch on Google Play. Those 200 apps have been downloaded more than one million times, Sony says. Pebble, meanwhile, announced that one million apps have been downloaded for its smartwatch and more than 190,000 of it smartwatches were pre-ordered during its Kickstarter campaign, which ended in May of last year. In that Kickstarter campaign, which lasted 37 days, the company raised $10.26 million from 68,929 backers, far exceeding its $100,000 goal.

Kickstarter is a form of crowdfunding that enables consumers to contribute to creative projects or business ideas to get them off the ground. Backers support projects to help them come to life, not to profit financially. Instead, project creators offer rewards to thank backers for their support. Backers of an effort to make a book or film, for example, often get a copy of the finished work. According to the Pebble site, the Pebble watch will ship late this year.

“These are all market indicators of the increase in the number of smartwatches shipped this year compared to 12 months ago,” the report says.



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