How Fast Will Wearable Workflow Become A Reality?

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While I’m fascinated by the potential of wearable technology, I’m skeptical about some of the more bombastic growth predictions. We may be pretty close to the top of the famous hype cycle. Plus, I don’t have a crystal ball or time machine. So what I did was an informal meta-analysis. Looked at multiple recent (2013 and 2014) market forecasts, focused on 2018, calculated the average, and divided by half (in the same spirit that engineers calculate safe load limits, then double). I know that these forecasts are about wearables and not the workflow tech I believe will be necessary for workflow tech to achieve some of the higher numbers in the most ambitious forecasts.

Caveats: I went with dollars, not units. Also, I didn’t adjust for current numbers (so don’t address percent growth). I looked for different forecasts from different sources. (You’re welcome to double check this. The first forecast is from BI Intelligence. It’s frequently cited, or at least shown.)

~$12B
~4B
~30B
~8B
~17B
———
~$14.2B

The average market size in in 2018 is $14.2B. Divide by half, to be cautious. 🙂 $7.1B. (Which, by the way, is still greater than the lowest 2018 market estimate.)

Just a word about my dividing by half. Many wearables market forecasts note that since this is a new product category, so there’s no historical context. (Of course, there is prior success and failure of other products in new categories, but how does one quantify, generalize, and extrapolate to this new wearable technology product category.)

Now, what is one to make of my estimate of $7.1B in wearable sales in 2018? Well, you really also need to estimate a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR). Only with both a base and a rate can you estimate the size of the opportunity for new tech and business models to generate profit and return for investors. I’ve seen CAGR numbers between 25% and 75%. So we’re talking a couple billion a year of new revenue. I leave finding five independent estimates and averaging them as an exercise for the reader. (Post it as a comment here, please!).

The next, and last, post in this series is a change of pace. While I don’t address wearable workflow directly, it’s implicit in why I’m interested in what I’m interested in. I’m a Maker. I have Google Glass. I like Intel’s new Edison microprocessor. I’d love to put them together to do cool things. I describe my experience, motivations, and Internet of Things wish list: Google Glass Intel Inside®, The Internet Of Things, and The Maker Movement.

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