Report: 56M sports, fitness monitors to ship in 2017

By Jonah Comstock
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Fitbit Flex__ColorsSports and fitness monitors, including wearable sensors and running and cycling computers, will hit 56.2 million global shipments in 2017, up from 43.8 million this year, . Over the five years, the research firm predicts 252 million units will ship.

IMS Research's sports and fitness monitor category includes "fitness and heart-rate monitors, sports and running computers, outdoor pursuit computers, cycle computers, activity monitors and pedometers," according to a release from the firm.

The largest single segment of the market in 2012 was fitness and heart rate monitors that include a chest strap, accounting for 23 percent of the market, IMS said. As more easily wearable activity monitors like the Fitbit or Nike+ FuelBand eclipse chest straps, IMS predicts that will drop to 19 percent by 2017. Meanwhile, wrist and finger-based heart monitors will grow at a 9.5 percent compound annual growth rate through 2017.

IMS researchThe firm said that pedometers are currently the largest segment of the market on a per unit, rather than monetary basis. However as pedometers evolve into more sophisticated activity monitors, and smartphones evolve into pedometers, the firm expects pedometers to decline. Meanwhile, activity trackers will increase threefold over the next five years.

Last summer, IMS conducted a survey of 400 UK and US consumers that found 63 percent of smartphone owners who exercise at least once a week and are interested in sports and fitness apps were also prepared to buy a sports or fitness sensor.

A report from ABI Research that came out last January predicted 160 million shipments of wireless, wearable health sensors. They predicted that 60 percent of those sensors -- or 96 million devices -- would be fitness trackers.

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