Sales of wearable tech rose by 29% in 2018 to 121 million units, with what research firm CCS Insight defines as smartwatches and sports watches notching up sales of 74 million and gaining ground on fitness bands.
CCS Insight predicts that sales will increased to 142 million units in 2019 and 260 million in 2023, by which time new categories of wearables including smart shoes will expand the market.
Apple sold 26 million Watch units in 2018, CCS Insight says, up 63% over the year. Apple’s sales accounted for 65% of the value of the smartwatch market in 2018.
Ben Wood, CCS Insight’s chief of research, says: “The Apple Watch has become a halo device for the whole smartwatch category. Other manufacturers are benefiting as people with Android smartphones jump on the smartwatch bandwagon. This is evident in the progress being made by suppliers including Fitbit, Fossil, Garmin, Huami, Huawei and Samsung, which all sold more smartwatches in 2018”.
Beyond the technology companies, traditional watch brands have also set their sights on the smartwatch market, mostly relying on Google’s Wear OS platform. Leading the charge is Fossil, which CCS Insight estimates sold 3.5 million smartwatches in 2018 under a variety of brands. Other players include Casio, Guess Watches and premium names Louis Vuitton, Montblanc and TAG Heuer.
Mr Wood notes: “The growing support for smartwatches by well-known watch brands is encouraging after the disdain heaped on the technology at the industry’s premier event Baselworld, shortly after the launch of the Apple Watch. Having initially dismissed such devices as a gimmick, some of the more progressive watchmakers now realize they must invest in new technology to remain relevant to a new generation of watch buyers”.