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It remains to be seen whether 2015 will be the year the wearables market really explodes. However, October 2014 polling by Ipsos found that wearable devices had a more promising year ahead of them compared with some other new technologies.
Nearly one-fifth of US internet users intended to purchase a wearable device within the next 12 months. Though this was behind more traditional connected devices such as smartphones, laptops and tablets by at least 9 percentage points, it led other relatively new options such as streaming media devices and 4-K TVs.
The leading wearables audience? No shocker here: younger consumers. While 19% of respondents overall planned to buy wearable fitness monitors, this jumped to 31% among 18- to 34-year-olds. In comparison, fewer than 15% of respondents from older age groups were interested. This was the case with wearable computers, too: Though 13% overall were interested in purchasing, more than one-quarter of millennials planned to snatch one up in the coming year. While men and women were pretty much even when it came to purchase intent for fitness trackers, males were more than twice as likely as their female counterparts to plan on bucking up for other wearables.
Figures point to strong growth in wearable sales and usage this year. Futuresource Consulting estimated in November 2014 that wearable device sales worldwide rose 32% between 2013 and 2014, to 52 million units, and in September 2014, Forrester Research estimated that 25% of US internet users used a wearable device this year, compared with 14% in 2013.
But forecasts vary greatly for this new market. Take smart watches, for example. In September 2014, Generator Research estimated that smart watch shipments worldwide would total 5.8 million this year and soar to 313.0 billion by 2020. Meanwhile, just one month later, Juniper Research figures put global shipments of smart watches at 1 million in 2014 and 36 million in 2018. Disparities are likely due to differences in definitions or devices included, but they also suggest that marketers and advertisers need to look at the wide range of wearables figures—and have patience—before tackling the market.
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