Wristables may be dominating the wearable game now, but the future will see a boom in both smart clothing and hearables, according to analysts.
Smart clothing and hearables, which made up 1.2% and 0.7% of the wearable market in 2016, will grow to 9.4% and 1.8% of the market in 2021, respectively. Fitness trackers will cede the most ground, IDC predicts, going from 47.6% share in 2016 to 24.2% in 2021. That isn't good news for Fitbit, which lost marketshare ground in 2016 despite wearables selling better than ever.
This is partly because IDC sees wearable makers focusing further on fashion. "Tech companies will be forced to step up their game and offer a wide selection of sizes, materials and designs in order to appeal to broader audience," said Jitesh Ubrani, a senior research analyst for IDC's Mobile Device Trackers. "We also expect more tech vendors to partner with with fashion brands for their creativity, and equally important, their distribution network.
Hearable growth volume is expected to be modest, largely because some of the features audio makers intend to bring to their hearables are health-related, like Apple's long-rumored health-tracking AirPods.
In all wearables, IDC expects the industry to trend toward away from a one-size-fits-all approach. The firm predicts that many manufacturers will create specific devices for niche uses in specific situations, focusing on doing one thing really, really well. In fact, that's probably why fitness trackers are expected to lose ground to the more fashion-focused smart clothes and smartwatch markets.