After the iPhone was launched in 2007, it didn’t take long for smartphones to outsell feature-phones – that happened in 2013. And when the iPad was launched in 2010, it didn’t take long for tablet computers to outsell laptops – that happened in 2013 as well. You get our point – with the Apple Watch which launched in 2015, it won’t take long before yearly smartwatch sales reach hundreds of millions. They may even surpass those of traditional watches – one day, of course.
The smartwatch market then is one all analysts are keeping a key eye on. To that end, one story that caught our attention this week comes from The International Data Corporation (IDC). They recently published a report that predicts that the worldwide shipments of wearables will surpass 200 million in 2019, courtesy of strong smartwatch demand. Or more specifically, the strong demand for the Apple Watch.
2016 smartwatch demand
The IDC has predicted that 111.1 million wearables will be shipped in 2016, up 44.4% from the 80 million units expected to be shipped in 2015.
2019 smartwatch demand
We recently wrote about the dominance of the Apple Watch in the smartwatch market, and the IDC predicts it is Apple’s device that’ll lead the way in the future. In fact, they go as far as predicting that by 2019 the Apple Watch will command a 51.1% market share.
Android-Powered Smartwatches will be a “Distant Second”
Unsurprisingly, they predict that Android-powered smartwatches will be a distant second with a 40% market share (adding Android and Android Wear devices together) and the IDC predicts that the user experience on these devices will be largely the same in the future -this is an issue that smartphone vendors are currently struggling with; vendors can only differentiate their devices by aesthetic, screen size and raw power. The IDC is saying that in the future, this challenge will be one that smartwatch vendors will face as well.
On the current generation of wearables, Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, said "The most common type of wearables today are fairly basic, like fitness trackers, but over the next few years we expect a proliferation of form factors and device types,” he went on to explain, “Smarter clothing, eyewear, and even hearables are all in their early stages of mass adoption. Though at present these may not be significantly smarter than their analogue counterparts, the next generation of wearables are on track to offer vastly improved experiences and perhaps even augment human abilities."
Is the IDC’s report worth the paper it’s printed on?
With the smartphone market stagnant and the tablet market getting that way, wearables have offered analysts something new – and exciting – to forecast. The IDC’s predictions for smartwatch shipments are bold, however they are not unrealistic. We can definitely see 200 million wearables being shipped three years from now, and if the smartphone and tablet market is anything to go by, we can definitely see Apple dominating the smartwatch market.