The worldwide wearable market will see continued growth “as second- and third-generation iterations reach the market”, addressing some of the shortcomings and concerns that potential customers have today, IDC predicted.

According to the company, 111.1 million units will ship in 2016, up 44.4 per cent from the 80 million expected for this year. By 2019, the final year of the forecasts, total shipments will reach 214.6 million units, with a five-year CAGR of 28 per cent.

Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC, said: “Smarter clothing, eyewear, and even hearables (ear-worn devices) are all in their early stages of mass adoption. Though at present these may not be significantly smarter than their analogue counterparts, the next generation of wearables are on track to offer vastly improved experiences and perhaps even augment human abilities.”

Smartwatch shipments will reach 34.3 million units in 2016, up from 21.3 million in 2015, on the way to 88.3 million units in 2019, with a five-year CAGR of 42.8 per cent.

Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s wearables team, said: “The smartwatch we have today will look nothing like the smartwatch we will see in the future. Cellular connectivity, health sensors, not to mention the explosive third-party application market all stand to change the game and will raise both the appeal and value of the market going forward.”

Smartwatch OS market share
Apple’s watchOS will lead the market through the forecast period, with a “loyal fanbase of Apple product owners and a rapidly growing application selection, including both native apps and Watch-designed apps”, the research company said.

IDC expects watchOS to continue to dominate the smartwatch OS market between now and 2019, although its market share will fall from 61.3 per cent to 51.1 per cent.

Android/Android Wear will be a “distant second” (accounting for a combined total of 40 per cent market share by 2019) even as the vendor list grows across “traditional” tech vendors and fashion brands. The user experience has been “largely the same” from one device to the next, leaving little room for differentiation, it was noted.

Pebble will cede market share (from 8.6 per cent today to 2.6 per cent in 2019) but “will not disappear altogether”, as its simple user interface and devices make for an “easy to understand use case, and its price point relative to other platforms makes Pebble one of the most affordable smartwatches on the market”.

Finally, Tizen “stands to be the dark horse” in the market, with the Samsung-backed platform posing a threat to Android Wear due to its support for all Android smartphones. Despite its dark horse status, IDC doesn’t actually appear to have much confidence in its growth, forecasting a market share dip from 8.2 per cent to 2.8 per cent.