Industry trends

Smartwatches forecast 2025

Looking at the history of computing devices in the Digital Age suggests a pattern, based on which the sky is not the limit, but a decade is. Smartwatches, it turns out, were never poised for taking over smartphones, like smartphones were poised for taking over computers when it comes to Internet usage.

This supports the claim that smartwatches are likely to saturate the market once that they hit a 10 year milestone, just like the previous form factors have.

If the frame of references is the historical sales of personal computers (or desktop computers), which experienced a first surge between 1992 and 2002, with a glitch between 2001 and 2003 that was followed by a continued growth, until it reached a plateau in 2011.

Desktops and laptops sales, from 1982 to 2021

Taking a closer look shows that from 2010 onwards, tablet computers, especially for professional use, started to cannibalise the market of desktop computers. Tablets themselves seem to have reached a plateau in 2017.

Desktops to tablets sales, from 2010 to 2021

When it comes to smartphones, their boom seems to have started in 2009 and reached its plateau by 2019. Ten years later.

All computing devices, sales from 2007 to 2021

It also helped that consumer use of devices has tipped over, with handheld internet usage taking over desktop internet usage by October 2016. Basically, consumers reached the point where they would get more things done on a handheld device than a desktop one.

Internet usage turning point, credit StatCounter

There also seems to be a pattern: every new form factor gets a good 10 years of growth, give or take, with a sequence that involves: introduction, adoption, acceleration and saturation. It either reaches a plateau or the newer form factor starts to cannibalise it. If we round up by half decades, that roughly gives us the following timeline:

  • 1990 to 2000, Age of the desk computer
  • 2000 to 2010, Age of the lap computer
  • 2005 to 2015, Age of the hand computer

Computing devices sales from 1992 to 2021

One important detail through, is that smartphones are a miniaturised and more democratic version of input and output devices. Smartphones, not so much: in their current form, smartwatches are not likely to take over smartphones when it comes to Internet usage. They serve more as an addition to a smartphone than a replacement, unlike how smartphones have been a replacement for desktop computers.

Depending on whether or not we consider 2016 to be the start of this Age of the wrist computer (the year that follows the launch of the Apple Watch) it is safe to bet that smartwatches might plateau in 2025, with sites like Statista reporting a consensus around the figure of 250 million. By then, Apple might still be controlling 30% to 40% of the segment with 75 to 100 million units.

Smartwatches forecast by 2025

That would put Apple’s output of wrist devices as high as the combined three traditional industry heavyweights: Seiko, Fossil and Citizen.

Projected size of the Apple Watch market by 2025

With these numbers, if smartwatches would reach market saturation around 250 million units per year, they would be making a dent, but not be jeopardising the traditional watch industry, which currently exceeds 1,000 million units per year.

{{ message }}

{{ 'Comments are closed.' | trans }}