Wearables market to double by 2021, fuelled by growth in smartwatches

Global wearable tech shipment volumes are forecast to double by 2021, fuelled by growth in smartwatches and smart clothing.

Essential reading: Top fitness trackers and health gadgets for 2017

The data comes from the market research company International Data Corporation (IDC). Its latest Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker expects 125.5 million wearables to be shipped this year, a 20% increase on 2016. The strong growth will continue in the next five years to reach 240 million units in 2021, resulting in 18% average annual growth.

“The wearables market is entering a new phase,” pointed out Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for IDC’s Wearables team.

“Since the market’s inception, it’s been a matter of getting product out there to generate awareness and interest. Now it’s about getting the experience right – from the way the hardware looks and feels to how software collects, analyzes, and presents insightful data.

In terms of products, smartwatches are expected to account for 67% of the total market in 2017, up from their 57% market share in 2017. IDC says that basic watches (hybrid watches, fitness/GPS watches and kids watches) will continue out-shipping fully fledged smartwatches. From 2019 though, smartwatches will receive a boost as cellular connectivity becomes a standard offering.

But its actually smart clothes and eareables that are will see the strongest rate of growth, albeit from a lower base. Shipments of smart clothes will rise by 76% per year by 2021 and will account for 9% of the total market by the end of this period. Earware will grow by nearly 40% per year.

Fitness trackers have driven wearable tech sales for a number of years now. It is clear, though, that this is slowly changing. Growth in wristband shipment volumes will grind down to a halt in the next few years, and fitness trackers will see their share of the market plummet from 38% in 2017 to 22% in 2021. This is good news for low-cost vendors as it will provide opportunity for them to cut a larger share of the market, making such devices available to the masses.

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