Last year the market for wearable technology — encompassing everything from hearing aids to wristband pedometers — totaled almost $9 billion. That should climb to $30 billion by 2018, said analyst Shane Walker at IHS Global Insights.
Anyone who’s spent more than an hour and a half in the technology business is perfectly aware that these are nonsense numbers that are published with impunity. No one is going to remember in three months — let alone at the end of 2018, five years distant — how an analyst sized the market. Anyone who cares will be able to include or exclude pieces of a market that no one anticipated in order to make the number work.
I’ve helped build some of these predictive models for various consultancies; spreadsheets are a wonderful and dangerous thing. A couple of the predictions grew legs and were cited long after they should have expired.
Stuff like this is useful because “Big” is not a useful figure for potential investors to put into a venture capital proposal. Sometimes a bad number is better than no number when you need to make a decision. Bet on hearing that $30 billion figure a lot for a little while, even though no one will remember where it came from. Just remember that it’s nothing more than a gee-whiz guess, based on not much at all. Focus on making a great product that people want to use, and the market size will take care of itself.