Bluetooth wireless headphones account for nearly half of total wearableshipments, according to analytics firm Gartner.
The company predicts that Bluetooth audio devices in the wearables category amount to 150 million, which itself sits at a total of 310 million. By 2021, Gartner also suggests the wearables market will hit around 504 million units, with Bluetooth audio bringing in 206 million of that number.
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And while those figures currently include 'dumb' Bluetooth headphones, *cough AirPods cough*, it also represents genuine hearable options, such as the Bragi Dash Pro and Nuheara IQBuds. By the time 2021 rolls around, expect the balance to shift even further, as all earphones become hearables.
However, despite calculations putting wireless audio at the peak of total sales, Gartner believes that smartwatches will still remain the most profitable sector of wearable tech, with total revenue in 2021 expected to reach $17.4 billion. And from 2017 to 2021, Gartner predicts overall smartwatch sales will jump from 41.5 million units to 81 million.
"The overall ASP [average selling price] of the smartwatch category will drop from $223.25 in 2017 to $214.99 in 2021 as higher volumes lead to slight reductions in manufacturing and component costs, but strong brands such as Apple and Fossil will keep pricing consistent with price bands of traditional watches," Gartner research director Angela McIntyre said.
Interestingly, despite Apple's current grip on the smartwatch market helping it to one third of overall sales in 2016, its influence is will drop to a quarter in 2021. Meanwhile, kids smartwatches will make up 30% of shipments by 2021.
Of course, with many analytic firms out there doing the numbers, trying to keep tabs on just what it all means can be a tough ask. Not to mention the fact that Bluetooth headphones sometimes aren't categorized as wearables, either.
However, with the likes of IDC and Strategy Analytics also releasing data this year which suggests the wearable sector is set to grow dramatically by 2021, this would appear to be a consistent overarching theme. Due to the ever-changing nature of the wearable sector, though, it's probably wise to take any specific category predictions with a pinch of salt.