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Earbuds To Beat Smartwatches As Top Wearable Seller

Latest Gartner research forecasts global wearable device shipments to hit 225 million in 2019, up 25.8% year on year.

Spending on wearable devices is tipped to notch US$42 billion next year, with US$16.2 billion on smartwatches alone.

Despite this, Gartner expects “hearables” (e.g. earbuds – Apple AirPods, Samsung IconX) to overtake smartwatches as the best selling wearable device by 2022.


Gartner Senior Director, Alan Antin, warns smartwatch sales will slowly decline, driven by market competition from low-priced entrants:

“At the moment, the smartwatch market is bolstered by the relatively stable and higher average selling price (ASP) of the Apple Watch”

“But the overall ASP of smartwatches is expected to slowly decline from US$221.99 in 2018 to $210 in 2022, due to lower-priced competitors and as higher volumes lead to reductions in manufacturing and component costs, while strong brands like Apple and traditional watch brands try to keep pricing stable.”

Next year, Garnter expects 74 million smartwatches to ship globally.

By 2022, ear-worn devices (“hearables”) are forecast to overtake smartwatches as the top wearable seller, notching 158 million units. By contrast, smartwatch shipments are tipped to hit 115 million.

Leading into 2022, Gartner expects fashion brands (e.g. Fossil and Casio) to gain market share, offering better style and choice than tradition technology brands.

“We think that fashion and traditional watch brands are likely to account for up to 20 percent of unit shipments by 2022,” claims Mr Antin.

Ear-worn devices are forecast to represents over 30% of shipped wearable devices by 2022, with significantly enhanced virtual assistant capabilities.

Going forward, ear-worn devices are forecast to notably reduce smartphone use, replacing many tasks currently used by smartphones (e.g. guiding GPS directions).

Concerning virtual reality and headsets, Mr Antin agrees there’s currently a “mismatch between expectations and what current technology can deliver.”

Antin asserts going forward this will change, but “for a price.”

“Contrary to what we see in other segments, the ASP for HMDs will increase by 19.2 percent until 2022, as better content demands better technology.”

Further information is available on Gartner’s website here.

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