Wearable Computing’s Next Kings: Watches In 2016; Glasses In 2020

If you want to own what’s hot in wearable computing, trade in your fitness bracelet now for a smart watch — but be prepared to switch to virtual-reality glasses by 2020. That’s the conclusion of Bob O’Donnell, head of TECHnalysis Research in Foster City, Calif.

In a new research report, O’Donnell predicts that world-wide sales of wearable computing devices will grow briskly in the next few years, to 175 million in 2020, up almost eight-fold from his estimate of 22.8 million last year. Much of that growth is likely to come as these gadgets gain favor in business settings, he contends, rather than continuing to depend on consumer demand.

Publicly traded companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook all are muscling into the wearables business. Meanwhile, privately owned specialty companies such as Jawbone and Fitbit have been championing wearable devices for years.

Apple Watch (Photo credit LWYang via Flickr/Creative Commons)

While TECHnalysis Research sees plenty of room for unit sales to keep climbing, O’Donnell cautions that average selling prices for devices are likely to flatten out and then slump as competitive pressures intensify and today’s one-of-a-kind products start to become  commoditized.

By 2020, O’Donnell argues, smart watches still may ring up the most unit sales, but head-worn devices (including virtual-reality glasses) will fetch higher prices. As a result, he predicts headworn wearables will have $13.5 billion of global sales, ever so slightly more than $13.48 billion for smart swiss replica watches.

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 One likely growth area for head-mounted devices, O’Donnell suggests, would involve “field workers who need to hands-free access to information.” These could include police and fire officers as well as people repairing electrical lines or fixing plane engines.  He also expects demand from engineers, architects and product designers who want better ways of visualizing their creations.


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