Smart watches will drive the wearable device growth trend in 2016. The Apple watchOS will continue to lead the smartwatch market, with a growing software application selection. While there's already demand for design improvement and more features, there's also momentum to keep it ahead of the rest of the market.
The overall worldwide wearable device market will reach a total of 111.1 million units shipped in 2016 -- that's up by 44.4 percent from the 80 million units expected to ship in 2015.
By 2019, total shipments will reach 214.6 million units, resulting in a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28 percent, according to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC).
"The most common type of wearables today are fairly basic, like fitness trackers, but over the next few years we expect a proliferation of form factors and device types," said Jitesh Ubrani , senior research analyst at IDC.
Smart Wearables Market Development
Smarter clothing, eyewear, and even hearables (ear-worn smart devices) are all in their early stages of market development. IDC believes that while these may not be significantly smarter than their analog counterparts, the next generation of wearables will offer improved experiences.
That being said, one of the most popular types of wearable devices will still be smartwatches, reaching a total of 34.3 million units shipped in 2016 -- that's up from the 21.3 million units expected to ship in 2015. By 2019, total shipments will reach 88.3 million units, resulting in a five-year CAGR of 42.8 percent.
According to the IDC assessment, smartwatches have evolved from being extensions of the user's smartphone to independent wearable computers that are capable of communications, notifications, and numerous other applications.
The smartwatch we have today will look nothing like the smartwatch we will see in the future. Mobile connectivity, health sensors and the third-party application market all stand to change the game. They will raise both the appeal and value of the emerging smart wearable market going forward.
Smartwatch 'platforms' will enable this evolution --they will manage all the tasks and processes, not the least of which are interacting with the user, running all of the applications, and connecting with the smartphone.
IDC predicts that once the third platform element is replaced with wireless cellular connectivity, the first two elements will take on greater roles to make sense of all the data and associated connections.