Smart wearables will begin to outsell basic wearables such as fitness trackers in 2018 on a worldwide basis, said market research firm IDC.
Global unit shipments of all wearables will rise at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 22.9 percent by 2019, it added.
Meanwhile, Apple’s WatchOS, in its first year on the market, “will quickly establish itself as the overall leader in the smart wristwear market” and maintain its top market-share position through 2019, but Android Wear will come on strong to account for 38.4 percent of unit shipments in 2019 compared with Apple’s 47.4 percent, IDC said.
Smart wristwear includes watches and bands capable of running third-party applications, including the Apple Watch, Motorola's Moto 360, Samsung's Gear S-series and Pebble's Time, IDC said.
“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. (See chart.) "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," he noted.
Said wearables research manager Ramon Llamas, "We are at a stage now where more vendors are getting into this segment, setting the stage for more selection and ultimately more volumes.”
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, IDC also said.
All told, wearable device shipments will hit 76.1 million units in 2015, up 163.6 percent from 2014’s 28.9 million, and by 2019, worldwide shipments will hit 173.4 million units, for a five-year compound annual growth rate of 22.9 percent.
As for OS developments, IDC said Apple’s OS in its first year “will quickly establish itself as the overall leader in the smart wristwear market and maintain its position throughout our forecast,” but the company noted that Apple’s OS will “see its market share erode as other platforms — particularly Android Wear — gain greater salience in the market.”
Android/Android Wear “will experience market-beating growth, with a combination of consumer electronics heavyweights and an expanding list of watchmaker brands also expected to launch their own smart watches in the years to come,” the company continued.
“Also helping Android/Android Wear's cause is the broader and deeper selection of devices at multiple price points that will appeal to a wide audience.”
Pebble will see its market share decline even as its overall volumes grow because of “competitive headwinds from WatchOS and Android/Android Wear,” but Pebble’s “low prices, compatibility with Android and iOS-powered smartphones, and avid fan base will sustain its presence.”