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!

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

To DMP or not to DMP?

There are plenty of brands that can benefit from plugging into a data management platform. But should you engage an agency to run one or bring it in-house?

Ben Willee and Richard Taylor

Spinach Advertising

Innovations in retail will bring creative and technology closer than ever

While approaching a customer in a shop and asking what you can help them with is Retail 101, how many of us actually enjoy being approached? Generally, you have to give the forced, fake smile and say, “Just browsing, thanks,” while screaming on the inside, “just leave me alone!” Maybe it’s just me?

Jason Dooris

CEO and founder, Atomic 212

There’s a brand in my digital soup

Not a day passes by in the life of business executives where digital innovation or the prospect of disruption is not front of mind. This in turn, drives an unrelenting flow of questioning, discussion and strategy papers.

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

Author, marketer

Marin Software’s digital marketing solution as a short way of streamlining and finding a scalable solution...

Al Drazhev

How BizCover is boosting search advertising success

Read more

It is really inspiring to see that medial psychology & machines are going hand in hand to innovate new things and even are improving ...

CBT Professionals

How psychology is shaping better machine learning

Read more

Anything is achievable when you talk the talk .. good luck

Mo Al Hooti

Data Creative crowns Matt Bates as new CMO

Read more

Great hire and good luck Andrew. I am sure you'll do a fabulous jobRob

Rob

Amaysim marketing and commercial chief joins property tech investment startup

Read more

I need to be reborn before i can grow up & become a contestent.

Kaye Peterkin

Channel Nine's content now streamed digitally on 9Now

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in