The wearables market was tipped to register an increase of more than 100 million shipments by 2021, with smart and basic watches set to displace wristbands as the most popular product in the segment.
Figures released by analyst company IDC forecast the overall wearables market will grow from 113.2 million shipments in 2017 to 222.3 million in 2021, representing an annual growth rate of 18.4 per cent.
IDC noted while the most popular wearables to date have been basic fitness bands like the Xiaomi Mi Band or Fitbit Charge, “such wearables are quickly becoming commodities”. The company anticipates low single-digit growth in this category up to 2021, while watches are on track to take over at the top of the wearables segment.
Watch shipments were tipped to grow from 61.5 million to 149.5 million in 2021, “as more vendors – particularly fashion brands – and cellular connectivity built into smart watches help to drive growth”.
Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC’s mobile device trackers said the move from wristbands to watches introduces additional revenue for vendors and distributors as “average selling prices are expected to rise”. He noted there was still a struggle to move beyond health and fitness use cases “and convincing consumers to spend more for utility that may not be immediately obvious will be a challenge”.
“This is where fashion-forward brands have a chance to shine as their customer base don’t tend to prioritise features,” he added.
IDC predicted shipments of smart watches will hit 71.5 million units by 2021, up from 31.6 million in 2017, led by the Apple Watch.
Another category set to fuel the wearables market going forward will be sensor-laden clothing, led by step counting shoes. Earwear, including wireless headphones offering additional features such as fitness tracking or audio augmentation, will also grow: IDC predicted shipments will hit 10.6 million by end-2021.