IDC Sees Bright Future For Wearables, Predicts 126 Million Unit Shipments Annually By 2019

The world doesn't always make sense. Take for example smartphones; these wonderful little devices reduced wristwatches to a niche market. And now those same smartphone makers, the ones who beat wristwatch makers over the head, are now trying to revive the category by implementing smart features. We call them smartwatches, which a part of the new "wearables" category, and according to International Data Corporation, it's one to keep an eye on.

Taking into account a combination of new vendors, new devices, and greater awareness among potential consumers, IDC predicts the wearables market will see a total of 45.7 million unit shipments in 2015, up a staggering 133.4 percent from the 19.6 million units shipped in 2014. If you think that's impressive, IDC says wait until 2019 when total shipment volumes will reach 126.1 million units, representing a five-year compound annual growth rate of 45.1 percent.

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"Smart wearables are about to take a major step forward with the launch of the Apple Watch this year," said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager with IDC's Wearables team. "The Apple Watch raises the profile of wearables in general and there are many vendors and devices that are eager to share the spotlight. Basic wearables, meanwhile, will not disappear. In fact, we anticipate continued growth here as many segments of the market seek out simple, single-use wearable devices."

It's not just the 
Apple Watch, but devices like Motorola's Moto 360 and Samsung's Gear line that are capable of running third-party applications. IDC says these devices will drive the market, while more basic models that don't run third-party apps will see much more modest growth, going from 15.4 million units in 2014 to 20 million in 2015.

Wristwatches will by far be the biggest type of wearable, though IDC says there will also be growth in modular wearables (devices that can be worn on any part of the body with a clip), clothing, eyewear, and earwear as earphones expand from audio to include health and fitness features.