Basic smartwatches will help rescue wearables market in 2023

2 mins read

Smartwatches with advanced capabilities experienced a difficult market in 2022, and while sales are expected to grow this year, they will do so very slowly.

In stark contrast the Indian market for basic smartwatches has taken off.

These are the main findings from the latest wearables market forecast, covering 2023 to 2027, published by technology analyst firm CCS Insight.

In 2023 184 million smartwatches are expected to be sold, which would represent growth of 16% on 2022. But almost all of this increase will come from India, where demand is expected to grow by 75%. This regional growth is being fuelled by the increased availability and popularity of basic devices, which are generally priced between $30 and $70.

Three Indian companies - boAt, Fire-Boltt and Noise - have benefitted from Indian consumers' love for smartwatch technology, creating explosive demand in their domestic market. In contrast, smartwatch sales in the country three years ago were negligible.

"The recipe for success among Indian smartwatch makers appears quite obvious: combining good-enough features with an affordable price. But the impact of the "Make in India" initiative shouldn't be underestimated," explained Kane McKenna, Analyst for Wearables at CCS Insight. "The next step for these companies will be international expansion over the next few years, to try and replicate some of this success in other markets where cost-conscious consumers could be tempted by affordable smartwatches".

We forecast global sales of basic smartwatches to reach 118 million units in 2027, accounting for one-third of the 353 million total smartwatches expected to be shipped that year.

Advanced smartwatches from companies like Apple, Google, Garmin and Samsung continue to dominate the market, despite their sales in units declining by 7% in 2022. Sales are expected to remain almost flat in 2023 at 107 million units.

"In Western markets, increased prices of everyday essentials will maintain pressure on consumers in 2023, leading to many of them delaying purchases like smartwatches with a price tag of a few hundred dollars, euros or pounds," noted Marina Koytcheva, Vice President of Forecasting at CCS Insight. In those markets smartwatches have already established themselves as an important consumer electronics category; as pressure on household income eases, adoption from first-time users and demand for new models as replacements will trigger growth.

Advanced smartwatches are forecast to reach over 200 million units shipped in 2027, almost double that of 2022. Although they will account for just under 60% of global smartwatch unit sales in 2027, their dollar value contribution will account for 88% of the $44 billion the market will be worth then.

Smartwatches dedicated to children and senior citizens are projected to remain a firm, albeit small, part of the global market, mostly concentrated in China.