Today’s preview of GWI’s Trends 2016 report looks at prospects for wearable tech in the year ahead.

Globally, it’s now almost 10% who say they have a smartwatch. However, ownership is lower in many key developed markets like the UK (4%), Australia (6%), Canada (4%) and Japan (2%). That means the global figure is being driven largely by higher ownership rates in many Asian markets – with names like Hong Kong, Singapore, China and India all posting numbers of 10%+. That their internet populations tend to be young is one reason for this, but so is the fact that the smartwatch market in APAC has been flooded by low-end options which cost as little as 20 USD. Look at a site like Taobao and it has a huge range of smartwatches available at all sorts of price-points.

Despite being available for some time now, premium smartwatches from brands like Apple or Samsung are yet to find the same level of uptake. Demographics are key to this; while younger age groups are in the lead for smartwatches, the strongest figures of all seen for 25-34s (a group with a developed interest in tech as well as the disposal income necessary to make purchases). In contrast, 16-24s might be at the absolute forefront of smartphone usage but many outside of APAC are finding themselves priced out of the smartwatch market. And while 45-64s were key to pushing tablets into the mainstream, they lag behind considerably when it comes to smartwatches.

So, with 16-24s remaining wedded to their smartphones and the 45+ group simply not yet interested in smartwatches, wearables face a real challenge. Yes, we’ll see the ownership figures rise in the year ahead, especially as a new Apple Watch arrives. But until they start doing lots of things in superior and more cost-effective ways to smartphones, they will struggle to move beyond their niche status.


Written by

Jason is Chief Research Officer at GWI. He's the main man who leads our global team of analysts, delivering world-renowned research. He's an in-demand data junkie who you might see popping up on your telly screens every so often to show you what's actually happening in the lives of consumers.

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