Framingham, Massachusetts-based research, analysis and advisory firm, International Data Corporation (IDC), has come out with a report that forecasts smart wearable shipments to increase 29% this year, reaching 101.9 million units. Furthermore, the report goes on to predict that the market for such devices will grow at a CAGR (Compounded Annual Growth Rate) of 20.3% over the next few years, with 213.6 million units expected to be shipped globally in 2020. While fitness trackers dominate the smart wearables sector currently, IDC expects smartwatches to take the lead by the end of this decade, accounting for 52% of the market worldwide. If and when that does happen, it would represent a significant growth for the product category that's expected to account for just 41% of all smart wearables shipped this year.
The report also states that while devices like smartwatches and fitness trackers are expected to become more popular over the next few years, clothing and eyewear will also start gaining traction. While those product categories have negligible market shares right now, by 2020, their share of the pie is expected to increase manifold. While smart eyewear of all descriptions are expected to account for 18.8% of the overall market, smart clothing will apparently grab a 15.6% market share globally, driven by faster cellular networks and the availability of a wider array of applications. In his research note, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, Mr. Jitesh Ubrani, points out that, "Watches and bands are and always will be popular, but the market will clearly benefit from the emergence of additional form factors, like clothing and eyewear, that will deliver new capabilities and experiences". While smart glasses are expected to cater to the enterprise sector, smart clothing like Google's Project Jacquard will be marketed directly to retail consumers for the most part.
According to Mr. Ramon T. Llamas, research manager for IDC's wearables program, super-fast wireless data networks will extend the functionality of smart wearables way beyond making and receiving phone calls or checking e-mails. As per his observations, "Cellular connectivity on a wearable can transmit and receive data, including time, location, and other data about a user and his or her surroundings". That, according to Mr. Llamas, would help healthcare providers analyze activities of patients and assist marketers in tracking preferences of shoppers. The emergence of the sector is also expected to provide a strong opportunity for developers, as "applications increase the value and utility of a wearable, and users want to see more than just their health and fitness results. News, weather, sports, social media, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications will all have a place on a wearable".