A new report by Gartner sees the wearable market growing 17 percent in 2017 thanks to the increasing popularity of smartwatches. The current state of the wearable market sees the majority of sales coming from Bluetooth headsets, with basic wristbands trailing behind in second place and smartwatches following closely in third. By 2021, though, smartwatch sales are set to overtake those of wristbands by a significant margin thanks to a number of factors.
Gartner is currently forecasting total wearable sales of 310.4 million units in 2017, which represents an increase of 16.7 percent over 2016 and should help total revenue hit $30.5 billion. Of this total, over 41.5 million sales are expected to come from smartwatches, therefore generating $9.3 billion in revenue. Over the course of the next few years, smartwatches aren't expected to see a rapid surge in sales totals, but by 2021 sales numbers could hit nearly 81 million units, representing nearly double that of 2017's figure, partly because of the popularity of brands such as Apple. Interestingly, though, the Silicon Valley-based company's market share is set to decline to 25 percent by 2021, with this factor also leading to an overall reduction in the average selling price of the category. Aside from Apple, Gartner also expects other brands such as ASUS, Huawei, LG, Samsung, and Sony to see a decline in share, with these brands only accounting for 15 percent of total smartwatch sales, partly because of their reduced appeal when it comes to personal technologies. Smartwatches designed for kids are expected to experience a slight boom in sales, to the point of representing 30 percent of all shipments, while traditional watch brands will enter the market and eat up the competition's market share gradually as well, to the point of accounting for 25 percent of sales in 2021.
Either way, the Bluetooth Headset will remain the wearable to beat. By 2021, sales of the devices are set to hit highs of 206 million units and the driving force behind this appears to be the removal of the headphone jack. With a number of smartphone manufacturers opting to remove the 3.5mm audio port in order to slim down their devices, consumers are relying more heavily on Bluetooth variants due to the lack of products with USB Type-C support. At the current pace, it's expected that by 2021 the headphone jack will no longer be included on any premium smartphones. Head-mounted displays are also expected to account for a small number of overall sales, but due to the relatively new nature of the category, numbers are expected to remain pretty similar over the course of the next 4 years.