The possibilities of the wearable future is exciting. One day we could have a combination of smartglasses, implantables, hearables and more feeding us information about our bodies and the world around us. It's almost enough for you to forget the smartwatch.
But you shouldn't, as a new IDC report says the smartwatch is here to stay. While it estimates that 43.6 million smartwatches will ship in 2018 - 32.8% of the overall wearable market - it estimates that there'll be 84.1 million smartwatches shipped in 2022, increasing marketshare to 38.3%.
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So what's with the smartwatch optimism? Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, said users are starting to realize the potential of using smartwatches for fitness applications. While fitness is the number one reason smartwatches are catching on, Ubrani said mobile payments and messaging are starting to rise, too.
In the future, cellular connectivity and additional health sensors will only embolden the smartwatch allure - something we partly saw with the Apple Watch Series 3. As for Apple, IDC points out that the company made up over half of smartwatch shipments in 2017, but it also feels like Garmin, Fitbit and the newly dubbed Wear OS will start to climb in due time.
Hybrid watches are also set to grow big, going from an estimated 32.4 million shipments in 2018 to 59.4 million shipments in 2022. IDC thinks hybrids will attract those who want some smarts in their devices but prefer the look of a traditional watch, though it also points out that manufactures might have a difficult time selling the benefits of a hybrid over a smartwatch, which brings more utility.
Fitness trackers, once again, are set to stall in growth. In fact, IDC estimates a fairly large drop in marketshare - going from 35.9% in 2018 to 22% in 2022. Fitness trackers will continue to do well in emerging markets, but they'll also act as an introduction for more fully featured smartwatches.
Hearables and smart clothing round out the wearable growth pattern. Hearables are estimated to grow from 2.8 million units shipped in 2018 to 13.3 million shipments in 2022. Clothing is forecasted to go from 4.1 million units shipped in 2018 to 11.6 million units in 2022. IDC anticipates both to grow, but in different directions: Hearables will grow with consumers as smart assistants continue to gain traction while smart clothing will likely grow in professions in hazardous environments.