A study by Juniper Research has estimated that sales of hybrid connected watches will soar to 80 million units in 2022 from 14 million in 2017.
The report also suggests that there will be a 50/50 split in the connected watches market, with analogue hybrids and touchscreen models like Apple Watch each accounting for 50% of the market.
Touchscreen models are currently ahead in unit shipments, but while that market is expected to grow by 160% by 2022, the hybrid market will expand by 460%.
The Juniper Research study, titled Smartwatches: Trends, Vendor Strategies & Forecasts 2018-2022, found that slower growth for touchscreen smartwatches has caused several manufacturers, like Motorola, Huawei and Sony, to leave the space.
Those that remain are pivoting towards specific use cases, chief among them fitness, which Apple, Casio, Samsung and others have emphasised strongly in recent releases.
“The smartwatch market is refining itself into a series of specific use-cases”, remarked research author James Moar. “This is having an impact on every aspect of smartwatches, from their design for increasingly specialised uses to their sale in specific retailers. While most vendors cannot necessarily hope to reach a broad coverage, the industry as a whole is here to stay.”
Despite the renewed interest in hybrids, Juniper expects individual players to produce few smartwatches, with hybrid watch manufacturers generally shipping less than 2 million devices annually. Fossil, having released many touchscreen and hybrid smartwatches throughout its portfolio, is the exception here, and is forecast to ship over 6 million smartwatches annually by 2020.