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Smartwatches will drive wearable device growth

Gartner predicts wearable devices will soar in 2016, largely due to smartwatches, fitness wearables and virtual reality applications

Smartwatches will drive wearable device growth
The adoption of smartwatches is largely due to Apple popularising wearables as a lifestyle trend, said Gartner

Gartner forecasts sales of wearable electronic devices will generate revenue of $28.7bn in 2016, and of that, $11.5bn will be from smartwatches alone.

The research house also predicts 274.6m wearable electronic devices will be sold worldwide in 2016, and increase of 18.4% from 232m units in 2015.

"From 2015 through 2017, smartwatch adoption will have 48 percent growth largely due to Apple popularising wearables as a lifestyle trend. Smartwatches have the greatest revenue potential among all wearables through 2019, reaching $17.5 billion," said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.

"Though the sales of smartwatches are the one of the strongest types of wearables, their adoption will remain much below sales of smartphones. For example, in 2016 more than 374 million smartphones will sell in mature market countries and in large urban areas of emerging market countries, for example, in Hong Kong and Singapore."

Gartner's ‘Forecast: Wearable Electronic Devices, Worldwide 2016' report revealed head-mounted displays (HMD) are becoming popular. Originally known to be used in expensive military projects, 2016 will see HMDs progressing towards mainstream adoption for consumers.

"New virtual reality HMDs for consumers, such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, and Microsoft HoloLens are expected to be available along with video games and entertainment content as well as business applications critical for their success," said Brian Blau, research director at Gartner.

"Film producers and sports leagues will augment their traditional content through HMDs to enhance their customer experiences by creating interactive attractions, movies, and sporting events that make the content more personal and meaningful."

Furthermore, fitness wearables, including wristbands, smart garments, chest straps, sport watches and fitness monitors, will also dominate in 2016.

McIntyre added: "Of all the fitness wearables, sports watches will be the one product category to maintain its average retail price over the next several years.

"Race runners, cyclists and divers will choose sports watches over smartwatches because the user interface, capabilities and durability are tailored to the needs of an athlete in their sport. Continued advances in sensors and analytics for sports watches will bring new capabilities that bolster average retail prices."

However Gartner did say, despite the worldwide wristband market was on par with unit sales of smartwatches in 2015, it predicts smartwatches will have a stronger appeal with consumers as they typically have more multifunctional features.

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