Wearables sales to reach record 275m in 2016

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Apple Watch and VR headset sales will continue to push wearable numbers ever higher, according to Gartner estimates

Research firm Gartner predicts 275 million wearable devices will be sold globally in 2016, an 18.4 percent increase from this year’s figure, with numbers boosted by the continued strong performance of the Apple Watch.

Overall, sales of wearable electronic devices will bring in £19.9 billion in revenue during 2016, £8 billion of which will come from smartwatches alone as this sector continues to grow.

Gartner says these figures will only continue to increase, with wearable sales predicted to top 322 million by the end of 2017 as sports and fitness-focused devices continue to grow in popularity.

Wearables SmartwatchSports watches are predicted to be among the most valuable products for vendors, as their increased sophistication means they will maintain a higher retail price point than other wearables.

Race runners, cyclists and divers will choose sports watches over smartwatches because the user interface, capabilities and durability are tailored to the needs of an athlete in their sport,” said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner. “Continued advances in sensors and analytics for sports watches will bring new capabilities that bolster average retail prices.”

But experts also see head-mounted devices, such as virtual reality headsets, growing exponentially over the next few years as both consumers and enterprises begin to embrace the technology.

Gartner says that 2016 will see these devices move towards the mainstream as products such as the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, Sony PlayStation VR, and Microsoft HoloLens offer a blend of video games and entertainment content alongside legitimate business applications.

The firm predicts that enterprise use of head-mounted displays (HMDs) will also grow in the coming years, with 26 percent of HMDs designed for business uses such as equipment repair, inspections and maintenance by 2018.

Recent research from Mintel claimed that three million wearable devices were sold in the UK during 2015, representing a significant 118 percent year-on-year increase, and meaning that one in seven people in the UK now owns a wearable device.