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Wearable Device Usage Drives New Data Applications

The wearable devices market is evolving rapidly, fueling the explosion of big data apps within the Internet of Things. A combination of new device releases, retail price reductions, and company rationalizations marked the first quarter of 2016 (1Q16) in the worldwide wearables market.

According to the latest global market study by International Data Corporation (IDC), the wearable device total shipment volumes reached 19.7 million units in 1Q16 -- that's an increase of 67.2 percent from the 11.8 million units shipped during the same period in 2015.

Moreover, the first quarter of 2016 saw its fair share of significant events to entice customers, with multiple fitness trackers and smartwatches introduced at the major technology shows.

Wearable Device Category Expansion

There were post-holiday price reductions on multiple wearables, including Apple's Sport Watch; and greater participation within emerging wearables categories, particularly clothing and footwear.

Conversely, several new device start-up companies announced headcount reductions or shut down entirely, underscoring how competitive the wearables market has become. "The good news is that the wearables market continues to mature and expand," said Ramon Llamas, research manager at IDC.

IDC believes that the wearables that we see today are several steps ahead of what we saw when this market began, increasingly taking their cues from form, function, and fashion. That keeps them relevant. The downside is that it is becoming a crowded market, and not everyone is guaranteed success.

Still, there are two areas where the market shows continued growth -- smart watches and basic wearables (devices which do not run third party applications).

Wearable Market Development Segmentation

According to the IDC assessment, there's a clear bifurcation and growth within the wearables market. Smart watches attempt to offer holistic experiences by being everything to everyone, while basic wearables like fitness bands, connected clothing, or hearables have a focused approach and often offer specialized use cases.

IDC says that it's shortsighted to think that basic wearables and smart watches are in competition with each other. Right now, both are seen as being essential to expand the overall market opportunity.

The unique feature sets combined with substantial differences in price and performance sets each category apart, and leaves plenty of room for both to grow over the next few years.

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