Wearables market to take off, hitting 112m devices in 2018

IDC doesnt expect an Apple iWatch until '15, calls the Google Watch 'still just a rumor'

Wearable computers "took a huge step forward" in 2013 and shipments of smartwatches and related devices will grow by 78 per cent a year until 2018, according to IDC said.

The number of such devices should top 19 million by the end of 2014, triple the number from last year, IDC said. In 2018, that number should swell to almost 112 million.

IDC for the first time issued a wearables forecast that divides the market into three categories ranging from low-cost, simple devices to higher-cost products with expanded capabilities. The three categories are dubbed complex accessories, smart accessories and smart wearables.

IDC's category of complex accessories include fitness bands worn on the wrist such as Nike+, FuelBand and Fitbit. Some of these devices cost as little as $50, but more typically, $100. They will be the most popular of all three categories through 2018. They operate partially when independent of a smartphone or other device, but fully when connected -- usually via Bluetooth -- to a smartphone, tablet, PC or other IP-capable device.

The middle segment, smart accessories, will slowly gain momentum and surpass shipments of complex accessories by 2018, IDC said. These devices also depend on connections to IP-capable hardware like smartphones, but allow users to add third-party apps to boost features and functions. Examples include the Samsung Galaxy Gear smartwatch, which works with some Galaxy smartphones, and originally cost $300, as well as the Sony SmartWatch and Pebble smartwatch.

"Their value proposition has yet to be completely clarified," IDC said in a statement.

The third and most complex category -- smart wearables such as Google Glass -- is only in early stages. It won't be until 2016 that shipments of smart wearables top 2 million units shipped, IDC said. Smart wearables will be almost fully independent of other devices except for access to the Internet.

"To succeed, smart wearable vendors must convince users to shift to a new user experience while offering them a robust selection of third-party applications," IDC said. "It is not a question of if, but when wearables as a whole will extend into the enterprise."

Some companies are already experimenting with uses for Google Glass, which is now being sold only to early adopters in a special program at a cost of $1,500 -- a price that's expected to drop once Glass ships. Google is holding to a planned 2014 release, but some analysts are doubtful.

Even at more than $1,000, a wearable headset like Google Glass would cost much less than many ruggedized headsets sold for industry use that can cost in the multiple thousands of dollars.

IDC said that Apple should enter the wearable technology market in 2015, although some reports expect a product to be announced later this year. Rumors have focused on a smartwatch, which some are calling the iWatch.

As for a possible Google Watch, IDC called that "still just a rumor."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Read more about emerging technologies in Computerworld's Emerging Technologies Topic Center.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Conversations over a cuppa with CMO: Craig Davis

​Leadership resilience, startups scaling up, marketing best practices, customer insights - these are just a few of the topics we manage to explore in the latest episode of Conversations over a Cuppa with CMO featuring Craig Davis.

More Videos

JP 54, D2, and D6 EN590,JET A1 AVAILABLE ON FOB DIP AND TEST IN SELLER TANKWe Can supply Aviation Kerosene,Jet fuel (JP 54-A1,5), Diesel ...

Collins Johnson

Oath to fully acquire Yahoo7 from Seven West Media

Read more

JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 EN590Dear Buyer/ Buyer mandateWe currently have Available FOB Rotterdam/Houston for JP54,D2, D6, JetA1 with good and w...

Collins Johnson

3-pronged marketing approach for property disruptor Brickx

Read more

With a response rate of 80-90%, a well optimized chatbot is a must-have for every business. Check out this link to explore how you can en...

Drishti Khurana

How NRMA’s Arlo the Koala chatbot won over customers

Read more

Hey, With a response rate of 80-90%, a well optimized chatbot is a must-have for every business. Check out this link to explore how you c...

Drishti Khurana

7 innovative brand chatbots

Read more

hey Ever wondered how a business could leverage WhatsApp to grow? Find out here - http://s.engati.com/2rf

Unnit Dedhia

Sydney Uni taps AI for new COVID chatbot

Read more

Blog Posts

Life beyond the cookie: 5 steps to mapping the future of marketing measurement

​There’s no denying there’s been a whirlwind of response to the imminent demise of the third-party cookie from all parts of the industry. But as we’ve collectively come to better understand the implications, it’s clear this change is giving the digital advertising industry the opportunity to re-think digital marketing to support core industry use cases, while balancing consumer privacy.

Natalie Stanbury

Director of research, IAB Australia

Ensuring post-crisis success

The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed brands’ CX shortcomings and a lack of customer understanding. Given ongoing disruption, customer needs, wants and expectations are continually changing, also causing customers to behave in different ways. Just look at hoarding toilet paper, staple and canned food, medicinal and cleaning products.

Riccardo Pasto

senior analyst, Forrester

A few behavioural economics lesson to get your brand on top of the travel list

Understanding the core principles of Behavioural Economics will give players in the travel industry a major competitive advantage when restrictions lift and travellers begin to book again. And there are a few insights in here for the rest of the marketing community, too.

Dan Monheit

Co-founder, Hardhat

Sign in