Smart wearables to reach 173.4 million by 2019

Lindsay James
Lindsay James
By Lindsay James on 18 September 2015
Smart wearables to reach 173.4 million by 2019

A growing list of vendors, a proliferation of devices, experiences, and price points, and steady consumer adoption will fuel growth in the worldwide market for wearable devices.

According to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, wearable device shipments will reach 76.1 million units in 2015, up 163.6% from the 28.9 million units shipped in 2014. By 2019, worldwide shipments will reach 173.4 million units, resulting in a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22.9%. Total shipments include both basic and smart wearables, which are two very different product categories in many aspects.

"Smart wearables only account for about a third of the total market today while basic wearables, led by fitness trackers, account for the rest," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "Driven by advancements in user interface (UI) and features, smart wearables are on track to surpass the lower priced, less functional basic wearable category in 2018. Smart wearables will quickly move from a smartphone accessory primarily focused on notifications to a more advanced wearable computer capable of doing more processing on its own."

Driving the market and gaining attention is smart wristwear, including watches and bands, which are capable of running third-party applications. “We are at a stage now where more vendors are getting into this segment, setting the stage for more selection and ultimately more volumes," said Ramon Llamas, IDC’s research manager for wearables. “Potential buyers wary of what is currently available will most likely be more interested once the second- and third-generation devices come to market with improved hardware and applications. From there, word-of-mouth and user-ambassadors will help to spur interest.

"Looking ahead, customers will need to pay close attention to the different operating systems that power smart wristwear," added Llamas. "Different smart wristwear operating systems are compatible with certain smartphone operating systems, and sometimes with specific models. Beyond that, experiences and available applications will widely vary. Just as competition exists for different smart wristwear models, this competition carries over into the operating system landscape."

Following the successful introduction in the US last year, Microsoft’s smart wristwear, the Microsoft Band, is now available in the UK.

“Since launch, the customer response to Microsoft Band has been exciting to see,” said Matt Barlow, general manager of new devices, in a blog post. “The customer reviews for Microsoft Band on the Microsoft Store website have an average rating of 4.3 out of 5. And, the Microsoft Health app has more than 1,000 reviews in the Windows Phone, Android and iOS app stores with an average rating of 4 out of 5. We couldn’t be more pleased with the response. We made a commitment to build the experience jointly with our customers and partners, and that’s a promise I’m happy to say we are delivering on.”

“With the open, cloud-based Microsoft Health Intelligence platform and Microsoft Band’s ten sensors, we are able to provide an impressive amount of information and insights,” said Microsoft UK’s director of new devices, Leila Martine. “We know that these insights can and will help people improve their habits on a daily, weekly and ongoing basis and help them reach their health and wellness goals.”

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