Summary:

The number of wearables sold globally nearly tripled between 2011 and 2012, but the market is still tiny when compared to smartphones. Berg, however, predicts 64 million wearable device shipments in 2017.

RunKeeper on Pebble

In 2012, consumers worldwide bought 8.3 million fitness trackers, smart watches and other connected wearables, according to a new study from Swedish research group Berg Insight.

That may seem like a paltry amount considering IDC expects the global smartphone market to grow to 1 billion devices this year. But wearable tech is still a nascent market, driven today mainly by activity trackers and other wellness apps – wearable device sales nearly tripled between 2011 and 2012, the study found. Berg expects the market to continue its quick growth now that big consumer electronics companies like Samsung and internet brands like Google are in the market with gadgets like Galaxy Gear and Glass.

wearables-realistic-final

In 2017 Berg expects the connected wearable market to grow to 64 million shipments, making it eight times larger than it was last year. Berg also predicted that most wearables would also cease being “smartphone accessories” and become stand-alone devices. We’ve already seen that trend with smart watches — which in some cases host their own apps, pairing with the smartphone only for connectivity – and in particular Google Glass.

One of the central themes of GigaOM’s Moblize conference this year is the internet of things, in which wearables will have a leading role. At Mobilize, held Oct. 16 and 17 in San Francisco, we’ll have Pebble founder and CEO Eric Migicovsky talking about his groundbreaking smart watch, Heapsylon co-founder and CEO Davide Vigano discussing smart socks and the future of connected clothing, and adidas interactive VP Paul Gaudio detailing the athletic gear maker’s conceptualization of the wearable market.

Wearable graphic by Rani Molla / GigaOM

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