Worldwide shipments of wearable devices are expected to increase by 38% this year to a record 110 million according to the International Data Corporation’s WorldWide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. Shipments should continue to see double-digit growth throughout the 2015-2020 forecast period, as more vendors get into the wearable device market and consumer demand rises.
The market will also be driven forward by the proliferation of new and different wearable products, IDC said. The research firm forecasts that watch and wristband shipments will reach a combined total of 100 million shipments in 2016. Other form factors, such as clothing, eyewear, and hearables, are expected to reach 9.8 million units in 2016, but will more than double their share by 2020. Nevertheless, the primary focus of the wearables market will continue to be on smartwatches.
“Although smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices capture the spotlight, they will only account for a quarter of all wearables in 2016 and will grow to about a third by 2020,” said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.
“It’s time to start thinking about smarter watches — traditional watches with some sort of fitness or sleep tracking but are unable to run apps—built by classic watch makers. These devices have the potential of making the technology invisible while still integrating themselves within day-to-day activities.
Meanwhile, smartwatches with an app ecosystem – like Apple’s watchOS and Google’s Android Wear – are expected to gain further market share.
“With few exceptions, this part of the smartwatch market is still in its initial stages,” said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager for IDC’s Wearables team.
“We expect to see major changes, with smartwatches that actually look like watches, user interfaces that are easier than swipes and gestures, applications that rival those on our smartphones, and connections to networks, systems, and other devices. This puts pressure on smartwatch platforms to develop further from where they are today.”