The news just keeps getting better for wearable device makers.
A new report from Futuresource Consulting, a London-based research firm, reveals that worldwide shipments totaled 12.7 million units during the third quarter, a 40 percent year-over-year gain. Last year during the same period, vendors shipped just over nine million units.
And those figures are only expected to keep climbing, according to Futuresource's Oliver Rowntree, a market analyst. "The wearables market is definitely one to watch, with our forecasts predicting sales of 52 million units across all wearable categories this year, up 32 percent from 2013," he said in a statement.
Buyers will be snapping up wearables this year's holiday shopping season.
The fourth quarter of 2014 "is where we're going to see all the action, with annual sales heavily weighted towards the pre-Christmas period," said Rowntree. "We're expecting 39 percent of this year's activity to drop into Q4, as wearable tech provides an appealing gifting option for consumers."
Apple, whose smartwatch won't go on sale until 2015, will miss out on the gift-giving rush this year. Nonetheless, the outlook looks bright when Apple Watch finally arrives, based on the strength of the company's premium brand positioning and technology that doubles as jewelry.
Rowntree added that his group is "anticipating further acceleration in the pace of growth in 2015 as smartwatches become more widely adopted, with a 44 percent growth rate driving the market to 74 million units shipped next year." His group expects "connected watches - incorporating smartwatches and wireless watches - to experience extremely strong growth over the forecast period, reaching 83 million unit shipments in total by 2018."
Juniper Research recently predicted that wearables shipments will reach 116 million devices by 2017. This year, the firm expects shipments of 27 million units.
Futuresource's data suggests that Microsoft's recent surprise entry into the wearable fitness device market was an opportune one.
"The brand landscape continues to be dominated by fitness companies, due to the relative size of the fitness market within wearables," stated Rowntree. Last week, Microsoft launched its Band fitness wearable. The wrist-worn device supports iOS, Android, and of course, Windows Phone.
As it stands now, Fitbit is the company to beat in activity trackers. "Samsung comfortably leads in the nascent smartwatch market and Garmin retains a strong lead in the traditional fitness category," noted Rowntree.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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