Wearables Growth To Come From Apple Watch And, Listen Up, Hearables

A recent report from research firm CCS Insight has plenty to say about the worldwide market for wearables, predicting that sales will grow 20% a year on average for five years.

Although wearables turns out to be a broad group of products, including headphones, VR helmets, smart glasses and more, it’s watches that stand out. The report says: ‘The Apple Watch has been a trailblazer in this category, with sales growing 60% in 2017 to 16 million units. CCS Insight estimates that about a quarter of Apple's sales in the fourth quarter of 2017 were made up of the cellular-enabled Apple Watch.’

Analyst George Jijiashvili goes on to comment that ‘Apple has become the market leader for smartwatches. Sales volumes have exceeded expectations and the introduction of a cellular-enabled model has pushed up the value of its sales, which we estimate at $5 billion in 2017.’


Paul Lamkin at Forbes has elegantly analyzed some of the findings, too, focusing on the report’s thoughts about Apple Watch and Google and Android Wear.

This comes hot on the heels of the news in the Sunday Times (paywall) that Apple Watch sales in the last quarter exceeded the entire Swiss watchmaking industry!

As Danny Fortson reports, ‘Driven by the release of the third version of the Apple Watch, which started shipping in late September, sales surged to an estimated 8m units in the last three months of 2017, according to research by Canalys. Switzerland’s famed industry exported 6.8m timepieces in that period, according to the Federation of the Swiss Watch Industry.’

CCS Insight has similar findings, reporting that ‘Our projections show that in 2018 Apple will come close to matching worldwide sales of Swiss-made watches, which sold 24 million units in 2017’.

Note that these are unit figures, not revenue, unsurprisingly. The most expensive Apple Watch Edition costs $1,349, while a high-end Swiss watch can set you back, well, considerably more.

Anyway, looking to the future, CCS Insight estimates that hearable devices, including items such as Apple’s AirPods, will increase considerably.

‘In 2017, CCS Insight estimates there were 1.5 million hearable devices sold worldwide, and it expects the market to quadruple in 2018 to 6 million units. Jijiashvili notes, “We forecast healthy growth in the hearables market, particularly if Apple updates its already successful AirPods with smarter features to join other hearables from brands such as Bragi and Jabra in this burgeoning sector. Our enthusiasm for hearables is underpinned by our expectation of even faster growth over the next five years, taking the market to an impressive 30 million unit sales in 2022”.’