People still aren't buying smartwatches - and it's only going to get worse

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Android Wear 4 Hollis Johnson The LG Watch Style, a smartwatch that runs Google's Android Wear operating system.

  • Wearable technology still isn't being adopted by consumers at a fast rate.
  • Research firm eMarketer predicts usage will grow only 11.9% in the next year - and that growth rate will slow down to single digits in 2019.
  • "Other than early adopters, consumers have yet to find a reason to justify the cost of a smartwatch, which can sometimes cost as much as a smartphone," eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu wrote in the firm's annual report.


Wearable technology still isn't catching up.

Despite a year full of exciting new smartwatches, tech-enabled clothing or jewelry, and fitness activity trackers galore, the growth of the wearables market is still on the decline, according to a new report from research firm eMarketer .

In fact, the entire category is being overtaken by smart speakers, at least during the 2017 holiday season.

"Other than early adopters, consumers have yet to find a reason to justify the cost of a smartwatch, which can sometimes cost as much as a smartphone," eMarketer forecasting analyst Cindy Liu wrote in the report. "Instead, for this holiday season, we expect smart speakers to be the gift of choice for many tech enthusiasts, because of their lower price points."

A visitor uses a Fitbit Ionic watch at the IFA Electronics Show in Berlin, Germany, September 1, 2017. REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch Thomson Reuters A visitor uses a Fitbit Ionic watch at the IFA Electronics Show in Berlin.

It was this time last year that eMarketer first slashed its estimates of people using wearable technology . When eMarketer made its wearables predictions in October 2015, it estimated that device usage would grow more than 60% among US adults in 2016. But it only grew 24.7%.

The coming year looks even more dismal for wearables. Now, eMarketer predicts usage will grow only 11.9% in 2018 - and that growth rate will end up slowing down to single digits in 2019 and beyond.

"Any growth that we will see in wearable users will primarily come from new users of smartwatches," Liu wrote. "However, the wearables market overall is still dominated by health and fitness trackers. We really haven't seen a wearable device become the next 'must-have' item. Until then, growth will remain conservative."

While the category is growing only minimally, there is still a solid subset of people who currently use smartwatches. According to eMarketer, early 50 million US adults use some sort of wearable device each month, which translates to about 20% of the population. For comparison, 77% of US adults use a smartphone.

Get the latest Fitbit stock price here.

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