Total shipment volumes of wearable devices are expected to maintain their forward momentum, according to data from the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.
IDC expects vendors to ship a total of 125.5 million wearable devices this year, marking a 20.4% increase from the 104.3 million units shipped in 2016. From there, the wearables market will nearly double before reaching a total of 240.1 million units shipped in 2021, resulting in a five-year CAGR of 18.2%.
"The wearables market is entering a new phase," Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for IDC's Wearables team, said in a statement. "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, analyzes, and presents insightful data. What this means for users is that in the years ahead, they will be treated to second- and third-generation devices that will make the today's devices seem quaint."
Watches: IDC anticipates that watches will account for the majority of all wearable devices shipped during the forecast period. However, hybrid watches, fitness/GPS watches, and most kid watches will continue out-shipping smart watches, which are those that can run third-party apps. Smart watches, however, will see a boost in volumes in 2019 as cellular connectivity becomes more prevalent on the market.
Wrist Bands: The sudden softness in the wristband market witnessed at the end of 2016 will carry into subsequent quarters and year, but the market will be propped up with low-cost devices with good enough features for the mass market. Users on their end will transition to watches for additional utility and multi-purpose use.
Clothing: The smart clothing market took a strong step forward, thanks to numerous vendors in China providing shirts, belts, shoes, socks, and other connected apparel. While consumers have yet to fully embrace connected clothing, professional athletes and organizations have warmed to their usage to improve player performance. The upcoming release of Google and Levi's Project Jacquared-enabled jacket stands to change that this year.
Others: We include lesser known products like clip-on devices, non-AR/VR eyewear, and others into this category. While we do not expect an immense amount of growth in this segment, it will nonetheless bear watching as numerous vendors cater to niche audiences with creative new devices and uses.