Wearables Week in Review

Report Type: 
Week In Review

Apple sets date for WWDC23

Apple has confirmed that its annual developer conference will take place on June 5-9 and the rumor mill is in full swing. The biggest rumors, of course, relate to the potential for a mixed reality headset, with the first rumor being its possible name – the “Apple Reality Pro”. Optimistic rumors expect the event to see the official unveiling of this device, with an expected launch date before the end of the year, and a price tag of around $3,000. In line with this rumor, there have been several claimed leaks of what the device may look like.

More grounded expectations for the event surround the Apple Watch. The safe money suggests that this year will not see any significant hardware enhancements (we did, after all, get the Watch Ultra launch last year, so it is unlikely there will be another significant hardware iteration). So instead, the focus is likely to be on an updated operating system and possible services to complement the existing Watch.

The Circana Take:

  • A mixed reality headset launch is obviously what most of the industry is waiting for. Could it disrupt the nascent market? Possibly. But more likely, a launch by Apple will help to promote the sector overall, with all existing manufacturers benefiting.
  • What we do not expect to see is true “smart glasses” for augmented reality. Rather, the launch is likely to be an enclosed device for use at home, rather than enhancing your out-and-about experience.

Bigger is better?

Other watch OEMs are taking a page out of Apple’s book and are launching “Ultra” style bigger watches. Leading this charge is Huawei, which has launched its new flagship Huawei Watch Ultimate with a 1.5-inch screen. Battery life is a claimed 14 days in an ideal world, but a more likely 8 days with heavy use. Of course, the watch won’t be coming to the US market, but it will still be a device that OEMs will keep an eye on to see if it is successful in Europe and beyond.

The Circana Take:

  • Thirteen percent of smartwatch owners claim they have a “large” watch, with a screen size of 46 mm or more. What is more, we saw a significant lift in demand for the Apple Watch Ultra: 6% of Apple watch owners are wearing an Ultra. That’s good news for the carriers as the watch comes cellular-ready.
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