Smart Wearables Will Dominate in 2016

With new vendors – including Apple – preparing to introduce new wearables, the market continued to grow in Q1’15. A new forecast from IDC estimates that 72.1 million wearable devices will be shipped worldwide this year. This represents 173.3% YoY growth, from 26.4 million units in 2014.

Shipment volumes are expected to increase at a 42.6% CAGR over the 2014 – 2019 period. 155.7 million wearables are expected to be shipped in 2019.

IDC’s Jitesh Ubrani said, “The demand for basic wearables, those that do not run third party apps, has been absolutely astounding… Vendors like Fitbit and Xiaomi have helped propel the market with their sub-$100 bands, and IDC expects [that] this momentum will continue throughout 2015”.

Despite the massive growth in basic wearables, smart wearables – those that can run third-party apps – will take over in 2016. Devices like the Apple Watch and Microsoft’s Hololens “are indicative of an upcoming change in computing”, said Ubrani.

Growth in the smart wearables sector points to an “emerging battleground” between platforms, said research manager Ramon Llamas. “Android Wear, Tizen and WatchOS are moving ahead with improved user interfaces, user experiences and applications. These will raise the expectations of what a smart wearable can do, and each platform is vying for best-in-class status. We’re not there yet, but we’re seeing the building blocks of what is to come”.

Worldwide Wearable Device Shipments, Growth and CAGR by Product Category, 2014, 2015, and 2019 (Millions)
Category 2014 Shipments 2015 Shipments 2019 Shipments 2015 YoY Growth 2014 – 2019 CAGR
Basic Wearables 22.1 39.0 66.3 76.0% 24.5%
Smart Wearables 4.2 33.1 89.4 683.0% 84.1%
All Wearables 26.4 72.1 155.7 173.3% 42.6%
Source: IDC