Forecast: Smart Speakers Will Outsell Wearables This Season

Strategy Analytics predicts the smart speaker market will nearly quadruple in unit volume this year, bringing the total to 24 million. According to eMarketer, smart speakers will likely outsell wearables in the U.S. this holiday season. “We expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points,” said eMarketer analyst Cindy Liu. The research firm anticipates continued growth for devices such as smartwatches and fitness trackers in the U.S., but slowed growth in terms of usage.

“Other than early adopters, consumers have yet to find a reason to justify the cost of a smartwatch, which can sometimes cost as much as a smartphone,” said Liu.

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“Note that eMarketer is looking at wearable usage and market penetration here, not sales,” reports TechCrunch. “That being said, the firm is estimating that usage of wearable will grow just 11.9 percent in 2018, rising from 44.7 million adult wearable users in 2017 to 50.1 million in 2018. As a percentage of the population, that’s a climb from 17.7 percent to 19.6 percent.”

If the forecast is accurate, we should expect growth rate to drop to single digits by 2019. Modest growth for the wearable market reflects similar forecasts from IDC and Canalys.

“Gartner, meanwhile, had predicted 17 percent global growth in 2017, but counts things like Bluetooth headsets (such as AirPods), body-worn cameras, and head-mounted displays in its grouping, alongside smartwatches, fitness trackers, wristbands, and other health monitors,” TechCrunch notes.

Amazon currently dominates the smart speaker market; its top-seller during Black Friday weekend was the Echo Dot. However, competition is on the rise from the likes of Google, Xiaomi and others. “Sonos recently launched its own smart speaker,” reports Business Insider, “and Apple’s HomePod is due out early next year.”

According to eMarketer, 55 percent of U.S. households will have a smart speaker by 2022.