The predicted wearables boom is all about the wrist

A combination of new vendors, new devices, and greater end-user awareness has propelled the worldwide wearables market higher over the past 12 months. IDC’s analysts expect this growth to continue, and worldwide wearable device shipments to reach 126.1 million units by 2019, up nearly three times on the number of shipments in 2015.

Helping drive the market higher in recent months was an increased focus on smart wearables, or those devices capable of running third-party applications. These include devices like the Apple Watch, Motorola’s Moto 360, and Samsung’s Gear watches.

Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC’s Wearables team said “The Apple Watch raises the profile of wearables in general and there are many vendors and devices that are eager to share the spotlight. Basic wearables, meanwhile, will not disappear. In fact, we anticipate continued growth here as many segments of the market seek out simple, single-use wearable devices.

Wrist-worn wearables, including bands, bracelets, and watches, will account for more than 80% of all wearable device shipments throughout the forecast. Most vendors have concentrated their efforts on these products and IDC expects this trend to continue. There are many strong competing brands who are designing wearables for the wrist, from FitBit to Apple. The devices are relatively affordable, and coming down in price.

Behind wrist-worn products are modular wearable devices, or those devices that can be worn on any part of the body with a clip or a strap. Clothing is the third category and is expected to grow the fastest, albeit from a low base, as companies embed items like shirts, socks, hats, and other products with computing power.

“The explosion of wearable devices was clearly led by fitness bands, which until recently commanded prices that provided comfortable margins, but those days are changing,” said Ryan Reith, Program Director with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Device Trackers.

“The price of these fitness bands have come down so significantly in some markets that smartphone OEMs are now bundling them with smartphones at little cost. Meanwhile, the market is quickly shifting toward higher-priced devices that offer greater functionality.

As the chart below shows, wristwear is expected to continue to dominate the market for the next couple of years. Meanwhile no other type of wearable device is expected to break through to the mainstream anytime soon.

Infographic: The Predicted Wearables Boom Is All About The Wrist | Statista
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