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IDC Forecasts Sustained Double-Digit Growth for Wearable Devices

Global shipments of wearable devices are forecast to reach 125.3 million units in 2018, up 8.5% from 2017, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. The growing popularity of smartwatches and greater wearables adoption in emerging markets will combine to produce a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.0% with shipments jumping to 189.9 million units in 2022.

Among the smart wearable operating systems, WatchOS will remain in the lead although its share will decline from 44.4% in 2018 to 35.8% in 2022 as other platforms gain traction. The second largest OS is expected to be Android with 22.4% share in 2022. Android should not be confused with WearOS, as the open-source platform offers vendors an opportunity to customize the wearables’ experience while creating differentiation. With Google’s service being banned from China, many local brands have adopted this strategy and IDC anticipates the proliferation of these devices to continue in many neighboring countries as well. Behind WatchOS and Android, WearOS will capture 19.8% share in 2022 as additional vendors begin to offer products and as the platform catches up to competitors in terms of features. The remainder of the smart wearables landscape will be comprised of smaller platforms and vendors although IDC anticipates Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin to dominate with their proprietary platforms.

Form Factor Highlights

Watches are forecast to reach 72.8 million units in 2018 with smartwatches accounting for roughly two thirds of the total volume. Total watch shipments are expected to reach 120.2 million by 2022 with a CAGR of 13.3%. Outside of smartwatches, hybrid watches and some basic kids’ watches will also continue to ship in large volumes although growth for these types of devices will remain relatively flat throughout the forecast period.

Growth for the Wristband category will remain muted with a 0.3% CAGR from 2018 to 2022. However, it’s important to note that this category will still account for 24.7% of the total market by 2022 with the total volume reaching 47,0 million. These wearable devices will continue to serve multiple purposes from acting as a stepping stone into the wearables market for first time buyers to serving as simpler alternatives for smartwatches. In developed markets, the low cost of these products will also enable them to serve as simple patient monitoring tools.

Earwear, accounting for less than 2% of the market in 2018, is on track to capture 6.8% share in 2022. Growth in this category is largely attributed to the disappearance of the traditional headphone jack on modern computing devices. Additionally, an increasing number of vendors are including biometric tracking into wireless headphones which will further help this category.

Iuliia Tore

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