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

Blog Posts

3 marketing mistakes to overcome when courting prospective customers

Marketing that urges respondents to ‘buy now’ is a little like asking someone to marry you on your first date. At any time, only 3 per cent of the market is looking for what you’re selling, so the chances of your date randomly being ‘The One’ is pretty slim.

Sabri Suby

Founder, King Kong

Why are we dubious about deep learning?

The prospect of deep learning gives those of us in the industry something to get really excited about, and something to be nervous about, at the same time.

Katja Forbes

Founder and chief, sfyte

Why you can’t afford to fail at CX in 2019

In 1976 Apple launched. The business would go on to change the game, setting the bar for customer experience (CX). Seamless customer experience and intuitive designs gave customers exactly what they wanted, making other service experiences pale in comparison.

Damian Kernahan

Founder and CEO, Proto Partners

Red Agency YouGov Galaxy Report, February 2019 Predictors Study. https://redagency.com.au/re...

Vanessa Skye Mitchell

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

RIP holden

Max Polding

Marketing professor: For Holden, brand nostalgia ain’t what it used to be

Read more

Where does the claim that 2 million Australians have tested come from ? Anecdotal information suggests that this is way off the mark.

David Andersen

DNA-based marketing: The next big thing?

Read more

Thank you for the info , being part of a digital marketing agency in kerala , this proved handy and get to know with upcoming trends. htt...

Dotz Web Technologies

Predictions: 9 digital marketing trends for 2019

Read more

So who then is correct? The Research or The skilled Digital people.

Anene

Report reveals Australia faces digital skills shortage

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in