- The growth of the global wearables market is set to slow to 8.2% this year from 10.3% in 2017, according to the International Data Corporation. However, growth is projected to accelerate next year through 2022 as smartwatches continue to become more popular.
- The expanded mobile capability of smartwatches will help to drive their popularity, especially as Google, Fitbit, Garmin and Samsung compete with leader Apple for market share. Apple added cellular connectivity to its latest Watch, which helped to drive consumer acceptance and expanded marketing support from cellular carriers, per the forecast.
- IDC's forecast arrives as Garmin announced its fēnix 5 Plus series, a line of $700-$1,200 GPS watches with built-in routable topographical maps, storage for music playlists, Garmin Pay contactless payment and a pulse oximeter for altitude acclimation.
The growth in smartwatches means more opportunities for mobile marketers to develop apps that expand the functionality of the devices for consumers. While health and fitness tracking helped to drive early adoption of wearables, cellular connectivity and a wider variety of apps and capabilities will likely give people more reasons to buy a smartwatch. The IDC also noted that earwear will likely become more popular as voice-enabled digital assistants like Siri grow increasingly sophisticated.
Even as smartwatches gain market share at the expense of basic watches, the technology is not yet a slam dunk for mobile marketers. While 35% of consumers own smartwatches, 66% never browse on them and 70% never purchase using them, per a March study by Episerver. This means that smartwatch makers still have a steep road ahead to change customer behaviors and fully embrace the devices.
Turning smartwatch users into full-fledged smartwatch consumers could hinge on increasing the stickiness of the devices in everyday life. Garmin's latest collection offers hints of wearables' expanded capabilities, even if they depend on a nearby smartphone for cellular connectivity. The fēnix 5 Plus series are compatible with Connect IQ, which lets users customize the watch with widgets, data fields, watch faces and apps. Users can get call, text and email notifications on the devices when they're paired with a smartphone, adding to the functionality of the devices.