Smart speakers - not watches - are 'gift of choice' this year, says report

December 26, 2017 // By Rich Pell
According to market research firm eMarketer, smart speakers are likely to outsell wearables as gifts this holiday season.

If so, this would be despite the introduction of several new smartwatches this year like the Apple Watch Series 3, the Fitbit Ionic, and Samsung's Gear Sport. These, and other, new smartwatches, says the firm, have "done little to reinvigorate demand for wearables."

The company still forecasts that the number of adult users of wearable devices in the U.S. will grow by 11.9% in 2018. However, last year it "significantly downgraded" its projections for wearable usage, projecting the number of U.S. adult smartwatch users will reach 21.8 million in 2018 - up 24.8% over 2017.

"Consumers have yet to find a reason to justify the cost of a smartwatch, which can sometimes cost as much as a smartphone," says eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu. "Instead, for this holiday season, we expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points."

Next year, the company expects over 50 million U.S. adults to use some type of wearable device at least once a month, which represents almost 20% of the population. While wearable usage is expected to continue to grow over the forecast period to 2021, the rate will slow to single digits beginning in 2019, says the company.

"Any growth that we will see in wearable users will primarily come from new users of smartwatches," says Liu. "However, the wearables market overall is still dominated by health and fitness trackers. We really haven't seen a wearable device become the next must-have item. Until then, growth will remain conservative."

Related articles:
Smart speakers driving adoption of smart home devices
Smartwatches, Bluetooth headsets to drive wearables market to 2021
Qualcomm doubles down on wearables
Intel eliminates wearables division
Wearables need distinct OSs to unlock full potential, says study

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