Wearable devices are finding new market opportunities as their use cases broaden. (skeeze/Pixabay)
The worldwide market for wearable devices, from smart wrist brands to wireless headphones, is forecast to experience â€śsteadyâ€ť double-digit growth in coming years as the use cases for such devices expand.
The market is predicted to grow 15.3 percent in 2019 compared to last year, according to new estimates published by industry tracker IDC this week. The growth is tied to the fact that new capabilities and features, particularly sophisticated ones tied to athletic and health tracking, are creating new market opportunities that are spurring a fresh wave of demand.
Some 198.5 million units are expected to be shipped by the end of 2019, with smart watches and other wrist trackers leading the charge, and adoption accelerating in the healthcare industry. Leading device manufacturers, such as Apple and Fitbit, have recently begun focusing on healthcare. The Apple Watch achieved FDA approval for its electrocardiogram sensor in September. The device can now alert users when their heart rate is too low or too high, and if theyâ€™re displaying signs of an irregular heart beat.Â
IDC predicts that the wearables market will continue to grow to reach 279 million units shipped by the end of 2023, which would represent a compound annual growth rate of 8.9 percent.
â€śTwo major drivers for the wearables market are healthcare and enterprise adoption,â€ť said Ramon Llamas, an IDC research director focused on the wearable industry. â€śWearables stand to play an important role in digital health, constantly collecting important patient data while also giving patients the ability to self-monitor. Within the enterprise, wearables can help to accelerate companiesâ€™ digital transformation by transmitting information back and forth while allowing workers to complete their tasks faster. This is where both vendors and companies can streamline processes to achieve faster results.â€ť
Though the addition of smart assistants to wearables is still in its infancy, IDC Research Manager Jitesh Ubrani identified that as an additional trend worth watching.
â€śThe integration of these assistants with wearables opens up new use cases, from allowing these devices to tie into the smart home to making the devices more proactive at urging users to live healthier or more productive lives,â€ť he said.
Watches accounted for 44.2 percent of the entire wearables market in 2018, the largest industry category by far. Their share is forecast to grow to 47.1 percent by 2023. IDC suspects that smartwatches from Apple will â€śundoubtedly lead the wayâ€ť despite increasing competition from devices running rival operating systems.
Interestingly, smart earwear is expected to become the second largest category of wearables by 2023, accounting for 31 percent of the market by then compared with an estimate of 27.4 percent by the end of this year. That growth will be led by the addition of biometric sensors and smart assistants that talk directly into a userâ€™s ear.
The growth of those two categories comes at the expense of wristbands, which include less sophisticated fitness trackers. IDC is estimating that wristbands, once the most popular wearable form factor, might actually decline in terms of their dollar value over the next four years.
The other major component of the wearables market is connected clothing, which is expected to double in size by 2023 but still remain a marginal wearable category. IDC predicts that shipments for smart garments will increase to 8.5 million by 2023 compared with just three million this year, with their share of the market doubling to 3.1 percent compared with just 1.5 percent this year.
The smart clothes segment will be led largely by step-counting shoes and similar devices, buoyed by new investment from major apparel companies, such as Nike and Under Armour. Both of those companies have developed sneakers with embedded sensors that provide granular stats, such as cadence for runners.