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Wearable shipments will hit 130M by 2018, but these are not yet ‘must-have’ devices

Above: Wearables still have a long way to go before they are a "must-have," like smartphones or underwear.

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Someday in the future, wearables could become like underwear — something you feel vulnerable leaving home without. But that day has not come yet.

Juniper Research released new findings today estimating that mobile smart wearable device shipments will approach 130 million by 2018. That is 10 times more than this year. It also boosts a previous Juniper report which said that the market is expected to expand from $1.4 billion to $19 billion.

The increased estimates are largely due to an upsweep in consumer awareness as well as a number of new products that target a broader group of people and needs.

Wearables have been one of the hottest areas of tech this year.

Advancements in sensor technology, big data, cloud services, mobile computing, and low-power wireless connectivity have created a “perfect storm” for wearables. Fitness trackers gave rise to the “quantified self movement,” but the cope of what wearables can do is extending far beyond counting our steps or heartbeat.


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They can be used to guide surgeons during a procedure, help people capture every moment of their life, or help parents keep track of their kids.

We’ve got Google Glass (and competitors) pioneering computers for our faces; devices like the Nike Fuelband, FitBit, and Jawbone Up jockeying to be the go-to fitness tracker; and a bevy of smartwatches from Pebble, Samsung, and others that let us stay connected from our wrist.

Juniper predicts that the market is only going to get more crowded and the competition fiercer. The opportunities are huge, and small startups as well as tech giants are all looking to make money here. This will likely lead to the various players targeting specific categories or subsegments.

However, achieving mass adoption is not easy. Wearables need to both provide utility and convenience beyond what smartphones already provide while also receding into the background.

Google Glass and Samsung Galaxy Gear have both taken flak for being conspicuous. It seems like all wearables products across the board are struggling to find the right balance between offering a full set of functions and maintaining simplicity.

Despite these optimistic projections and consumer excitement, wearables are not yet a “must have” like smartphones (or underwear), and the industry still has a long way to go. 


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