​Welcome to the 100 million club: Wearable sales soar in 2016

But no smartwatch explosion expected
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A new report by IDC has predicted that wearable tech shipments will grow 29% in 2016, tipping the scales over 100 million units sold in a year for the first time.

The research company has estimated that 101.9 million smartwatches, fitness trackers and other wearable devices will be shipped this year, up from 79 million in 2015.

And the growth is set to continue. By 2020, IDC estimates that shipments will reach 213.6 million devices, growing at an annual growth rate of 20.3%. This would mean a slowing of sales growth year-by-year, showing that IDC doesn't expect an explosion of wearable tech popularity any time soon.

IDC reckons smartwatches will dominate the market by 2020, rising from a 41% share to 52.1% in 2020. Interestingly, IDC believes it will be traditional analogue watches with fitness tracking and smart features that will fuel growth – the kind we've seen from Fossil, Withings and Mondaine.

And what of fitness trackers? Well, as we pointed out in our opinion piece today, the market will start to become dominated by cheaper devices:

"Through their simplicity, fitness-focused wrist bands have dominated the market thus far. Driven by low cost vendors Xiaomi and giants like Fitbit, this category will remain influential and accessible. However, that dominance will be challenged by watches as many watch vendors incorporate basic fitness features into their products," the report concluded.

By 2020, IDG also believes that smart eyewear and clothing will start to take hold, although numbers will still be small. It predicts smartglasses – fuelled by Microsoft's HoloLens – will make up 10% of devices, and smart clothing 7.3% respectively.

It's hardly a groundbreaking set of predictions from IDG and backs up what we already know: continued growth of smartwatches and fitness tech over the next four years. Many will point to the slow growth in these forecasts, and there seems little hint of a smartphone style explosion in popularity.

​Welcome to the 100 million club: Wearable sales soar in 2016

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James Stables


James is the co-founder of Wareable, and he has been a technology journalist for 15 years.

He started his career at Future Publishing, James became the features editor of T3 Magazine and T3.com and was a regular contributor to TechRadar – before leaving Future Publishing to found Wareable in 2014.

James has been at the helm of Wareable since 2014 and has become one of the leading experts in wearable technologies globally. He has reviewed, tested, and covered pretty much every wearable on the market, and is passionate about the evolving industry, and wearables helping people achieve healthier and happier lives.

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