NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- At the moment, fitness bands are the really hot items in wearables category, but that may change in 2016, as analysts at Gartner believe that by 2016 smartwatches will comprise about 40% of consumer devices worn on the wrist led by two things - Apple (AAPL) and China.
The analysts say nine out of the top 10 smartphone vendors have entered the wearables market to date or are about to ship a first product, up from two last year, Jawbone and Fitbit. "Apple has finally unveiled its Apple Watch, which we expect to trigger more consumer interest once it starts shipping in 2015," said Gartner research director Angela McIntyre. "Apple introduced three smartwatch models that will sell at a wide price range, with the lowest starting at $349. As with the iPhone, Apple's high-price strategy for the Watch will limit its market share; yet, with its attention to design and the user interface, we believe this product will attract many users."
As for fitness wearables, Gartner says global shipments will dip slightly from 70 million to 68 million units next year (an effect of the Apple Watch release) but are expected to rebound to a record 91 million units in 2016. New, low-cost "smart wristbands" (merging features from fitness devices and smartphones) will account for 24 million of those 2016 devices. Gartner thinks a growing number of Chinese vendors launching fitness wrist bands will put pressure on established players such as the aforementioned Fitbit and Jawbone. Although these vendors currently have a primarily local market focus analysts believe they will eventually turn to international markets as well.