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IDC Forecasts Huge Growth for Wearable Devices

Many people remain skeptical that wearable computing and communications devices will grow at the pace of smartphones but growth this year is expected to double, according to a forecast released today by IT market research IDC.

Sales of "wristwear," which will account for 89.2 percent of all wearables, will grow from 17.7 million units in 2014 to 40.7 million this year, IDC is predicting. Wristwear, by IDC's definition, includes bands such as the Microsoft Band, bracelets and watches. Other types include clothing, eyewear, ear pieces and modular devices, accounting for the remaining 10.8 percent.

Wristwear capable of running third-party apps will account for the largest amount of new wearables sold, with 25.7 million predicted to sell this year. That's more than a 500 percent increase from the 4.2 million users bought last year. Next month's release of the Apple Watch will certainly play a big role in that growth. Other popular smartwatches include the Moto 360 and Samsung Gear watches will also contribute. But just as Apple kicked off the personal music player, smartphone and tablet markets, IDC predicts that the new Apple Watch will fuel the market for wrist-worn devices.

"Smart wearables are about to take a major step forward with the launch of the Apple Watch this year," said IDC Research Manager Ramon Llamas, in a statement. "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."

The jury is still out on whether the Apple Watch and other devices like it will be a novelty, or if there is a killer app for these devices other than the convenience of being able to look at your e-mails and texts (and answer your phone). As I noted earlier this month, the Apple Watch doesn't have to be a hit right away but the apps available for it and others like it will have to offer a capability not available with smartphones today.

Do you see a killer app coming or is the current convenience alone enough to drive this new market?

Posted by Jeffrey Schwartz on 03/30/2015 at 12:07 PM


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