Wearables Poised For Steep Growth: Apple Watch To Raise Market Profile
New vendors, new devices and greater end-user awareness will see the market grow, with the IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker forecasting vendors will ship a total of 45.7 million units this year, up 133.4 per cent on last year’s 19.6 million units.
By 2019, this is expected to grow to 126.1 million units at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 45.1 per cent.
An increased focus on smart wearables capable of running third-party applications, including devices such as the Apple Watch, Motorola’s Moto 360 and Samsung’s Gear watches, will drive the market higher in 2015.
Smart wearables will reach 25.7 million units in 2015, up 510.9 per cent from the 4.2 million units shipped in 2014, the IDC has forecast.
Basic wearables, meanwhile, are forecast to grow from 15.4 million units in 2014 to 20 million units, recording 30 per cent year-on-year growth.
“Smart wearables are about to take a major step forward with the launch of the Apple Watch this year,” commented Ramon Llamas, IDC wearables team research manager. “The Apple Watch raises the profile of wearables in general and there are many vendors and devices that are eager to share the spotlight.
“Basic wearables, meanwhile, will not disappear. In fact, we anticipate continued growth here as many segments of the market seek out simple, single-use wearable devices.”
Wrist-worn wearables will by far and away be the most popular option for consumers, accounting for more than 80 per cent of all wearable device shipments throughout the forecast, with the IDC expecting vendors to continue to concentrate on these devices.
Modular devices, attached with clips or straps, will follow in second place, while the clothing category is expected to grow the fastest, with companies incorporating computer power into items such as shirts, socks and hats.
The IDC expects eyewear to first catch on among enterprise users within select vertical markets, with earwear to comprise a small part of the overall market as earphones expand from audio to include health and fitness features.
“The explosion of wearable devices was clearly led by fitness bands, which until recently commanded prices that provided comfortable margins, but those days are changing,” commented Ryan Reith, IDC Worldwide Quarterly Device Trackers program director.
“The price of these fitness bands have come down so significantly in some markets that smartphone OEMs are now bundling them with smartphones at little cost. Meanwhile, the market is quickly shifting toward higher-priced devices that offer greater functionality.”
Noting the “symbolic” entry of Apple into the market, Reith observed that “the key to success will be to create compelling use cases for the average consumer”.
“Many users will need a good reason to replace a traditional watch or accessory with a wrist-worn device or some other form of wearable that will likely require daily charging and occasional software upgrades,” he commented.