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IDC Forecasts Sustained Double-Digit Growth for Wearable Devices Led by Steady Adoption of Smartwatches

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Global shipments of wearable devices are forecast to reach 125.3 million units in 2018, up 8.5% from 2017, according to the International Data Corporation (IDCWorldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker. The growing popularity of smartwatches and greater wearables adoption in emerging markets will combine to produce a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 11.0% with shipments jumping to 189.9 million units in 2022.

Global shipments of wearable devices are forecast to reach 125.3 million units in 2018, up 8.5% from 2017, according to the IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

“The transition from basic wearables to smart wearables will continue over the next five years as the two approach parity in terms of market share by 2022,” said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “The rise of smart wearables will not just be in mature markets, but also from emerging markets in Asia/Pacific and elsewhere. Japan will play an equally important role as they consume more than one third of all smart wearables.”

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Among the smart wearable operating systems, WatchOS will remain in the lead although its share will decline from 44.4% in 2018 to 35.8% in 2022 as other platforms gain traction. The second largest OS is expected to be Android with 22.4% share in 2022. Android should not be confused with WearOS, as the open-source platform offers vendors an opportunity to customize the wearables’ experience while creating differentiation. With Google’s service being banned from China, many local brands have adopted this strategy and IDC anticipates the proliferation of these devices to continue in many neighboring countries as well. Behind WatchOS and Android, WearOS will capture 19.8% share in 2022 as additional vendors begin to offer products and as the platform catches up to competitors in terms of features. The remainder of the smart wearables landscape will be comprised of smaller platforms and vendors although IDC anticipates Samsung, Fitbit, and Garmin to dominate with their proprietary platforms.

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“Expect smartwatch operating systems to evolve along several vectors in the coming years,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables team. “First, smartwatches will focus on convenience by proactively providing glanceable and actionable information to the user. Second, smartwatches will provide new means of communication between users, and this is where cellular connectivity will play a significant role in its development. Third, smartwatch operating systems will emphasize connection, not only between users but between wearers and other smart devices and systems. Finally, expect further developments focusing on health with the smartwatch playing a critical role in tracking your health goals and detecting potential ailments.”

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