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A Gartner Report on Wearables sees Apple as the Dominant Player in the Smartwatch Sector through to 2021



During Apple's last financial conference call, Apple's CEO stated that "Sales of Apple Watch were up more than 50% in the June quarter and it's the number one selling smartwatch in the world by a very wide margin. Apple Watch is having a positive impact on people's health and daily lives and motivating them to sit less and move more." Today Gartner posted a report on the wearable device market from 2017 through to 2021. As noted in our cover graphic, Gartner lists the smartwatch as the runaway leader in wearables sector through to 2021 with Apple leading the way.


The Gartner report specifically noted that "Apple will continue to have the greatest market share of any smartwatch provider. However, as more providers enter the market, Apple's market share will decrease from approximately a third in 2016 to a quarter in 2021.


The announcement of a new Apple Watch expected in September may enable direct cellular connectivity for interacting with Siri, texting and transferring sensor data when the phone or Wi-Fi is not present. We expect other consumer electronics brands such as Asus, Huawei, LG, Samsung and Sony to sell only 15 percent of smartwatches in 2021, because their brands do not have as strong an appeal as lifestyle brands for personal technologies."


Surprisingly Gartner noted that "Head-mounted displays (HMDs) account for only 7 percent of all wearable devices shipped in 2017, and will not reach mainstream adoption with consumers or industrial customers through 2021. Current low adoption by mainstream consumers shows that the market is still in its infancy, not that it lacks longer-term potential," said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.


The report further noted that "Near-term opportunities for virtual reality HMDs among consumers are with video game players. Workers will also use them for tasks such as equipment repair, inspections and maintenance, but also in warehouses and manufacturing, training, design, customer interactions and more. Theme parks, theaters, museums and sports venues will purchase HMDs to enhance the customers' experience in interactive attractions or movies, and add information and supplemental images at sporting events."


Even with Gartner throwing in every conceivable end-user application for the headset category that they could possibly think of they still don't see it catching on as a mainstream product until after 2021.


Of course industry players like Oculus, HTC, Microsoft, Dell, Asus, Lenovo and HP will strongly disagree with Gartner's position in this category as they plan to launch new headsets this Christmas. We might even see a few shooter games surface from Xbox for the VR sector and hopefully a few VR gaming weapon accessories. And with Apple likely to enter the market over the next few years, the headset market is likely to find much more success as a device than Gartner imagines. But like all new markets, nothing is guaranteed – so only time will tell if the headset market can in fact overcome the odds.


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