Research Firm Predicts Two In Five Internet Users Will Use Wearables By 2019

By the end of the year, market research firm eMarketer predicts that 39.5 million U.S. adults (18 years old and over) will use wearables, a category that includes smartwatches and fitness trackers. If so, it will mean the category has grown nearly 58 percent compared to last year, though it's just the beginning of bigger numbers to come.

The same research firm expects that more than twice as many adults will buy into the wearables category by 2018, and just one year later, two in five Internet users will wield a wearable device of some kind.

At present, wearables are most popular among U.S. adults between 25 and 44 years old. Presumably these are tech savvy individuals who aren't scared off by new technologies, though looking longer term, adults ages 65 and older will be the biggest growth driver as more wearables with health monitoring capabilities hit the market.

Apple Watch

Interestingly, one of things holding the wearables category back is a lack of advertising. That's because just 16 percent of Americans currently own a wearable device, and until consumers show more interest in the category, advertisers are reluctant to invest significant funds to promote fitness bands and smartwatches.

"The consensus among the experts we consulted was that advertising will not appear in volume on wearables until one or more of the devices attains significant market share, which makes sense considering scale is a critical aspect of digital advertising," says eMarketer senior analyst Cathy Boyle.

So, what's it going to take for the category to grow? Quite simply, more apps, eMarketer says. Just as apps played a critical role in the adoption of smartphones and tablets, the same will be true of wearables.