The Middle East and Africa (MEA) wearables market continued its strong growth trajectory into the first quarter of 2017, according to the latest figures compiled by global ICT research and consulting services firm International Data Corporation (IDC).
Bucking a trend that has seen slowdowns in other segments of the personal consumer devices market, IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker for Q1 2017 shows that shipments of wearables were up 30.2 per cent year on year (YoY) in the MEA region.
Smart wearables move market
Intriguingly, while shipments of basic wearables (devices that do not support third-party applications) increased 16.8 per cent YoY, it was the growth of smart wearables (devices that do support third-party applications) that provided much of the market’s momentum, with shipments up 64.9 per cent YoY.
This marks a considerable turnaround for the market, with Samsung’s Gear S3 line of smart watches and Apple’s Series 1 and Series 2 smart watch offerings being particularly well received in the market, both by first-time buyers and consumers looking to upgrade.
“The MEA wearables market is in the midst of a major transformation,” says Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC MEA.
“Indeed, we are seeing an evolution of the market from fitness bands to smart wearables such as watches, earwear, and clothing. IDC expects that by the end of 2021, smart wearables will account for 43 per cent of total wearables shipments in the region, up from just 26 per cent in 2016.
“Fashion-conscious consumers now have a variety of smartwatch options to choose from, with sleek designs, myriad strap options, and trendy interfaces being offered by vendors, without compromising on features like responsiveness, sensor performance, battery life, and smartphone interaction.
“Increasingly, tech firms are collaborating with well-known fashion brands on new offerings to keep consumers interested, and this approach will be instrumental in driving wearables growth as it opens up the devices to new audiences through the inclusion of point of sales in fashion outlets.”
IDC expects the MEA wearables market to grow 20.9 per cent YoY in 2017 to reach a total of 2.9 million units. The smart wearables segment will continue to be the prime driver of this growth, with shipments tipped to increase 52.0 per cent YoY. In the longer term, IDC’s latest forecast shows the market expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.2 per cent over the 2016–2021 period.
“The next wave of growth for the wearables market will stem from adoption by value-seeking customers and from existing fitness band owners looking to upgrade to smartwatches now that they offer a better value proposition,” says Dogra.
“Wearables vendors should focus on effectively utilizing the data captured by the sensors on these gadgets so that the day-to-day tasks performed by users can be made more straightforward and less time consuming. The role of third-party application developers will be critical in achieving this, so vendors should look to actively engage with the developer community.”