Wearable shipment volumes are expected to “maintain their forward momentum” as the market transforms, according to a forecast from IDC.
The research company said vendors will ship 125.5 million such devices this year, marking a 20.4 per cent year-on-year increase. In 2021, the market will reach a little over 240 million units, representing a five year CAGR of 18.2 per cent.
“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, analyses, and presents insightful data,” said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s wearables team.
For users, this means second- and third-generation devices which will “make today’s devices seem quaint”. IDC touted digital assistants, cellular connectivity and connection to larger systems, both at home and work.
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC, said: “Opportunities also exist for developers and channel partners to provide the apps, services, and distribution that will support the growing abundance of wearables. From a deployment perspective, the commercial segment also stands to benefit as wearables enable productivity, lower costs, and increase ROI in the long term.”
During the forecast period, watches will account for the majority of all wearable devices shipped, although the company noted “basic” products which do not run third-party apps (such as hybrid, fitness GPS, and child-oriented watches) will continue to outship their fully-fledged counterparts.
Smartwatches will see a boost in 2019, as cellular connectivity becomes more prevalent.
Wristbands will see slowing growth, and the “sudden softness” in the market seen at the end of 2016 will continue, although the market will be propped-up by low-cost devices with “good enough” features. Users will also transition to watches for additional utility and multi-purpose use.