Wearables are the next frontier for technology, and Apple Watch appears to be leading the charge. Last fall, for example, IDC reported that Apple sold 4.7 million Apple Watches and claiming 17% of the wearable market. In their 5-year projections, IDC is now estimating that “WatchOS will account for 27.5% of all watches in 2023.”
The wearables report (including watches, wristbands, earwear, and clothing) suggests that the wearables market is expected to grow, on average, 9.7% annually through 2023. Some of that growth is expected to be in the increased adoption of smart assistants (like Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa). According to Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers,
Though still in its infancy, the 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.
Also expected to drive the increase in wearables are the healthcare and enterprise markets. Apple Watch has already been attributed to improving people’s health and saving lives, so it’s no surprise that the product would continue to play a key role in digital health. In enterprises, the Apple Watch (and other wearables) could provide increased efficiency in communicating and completing tasks faster.
Earwear (ear-worn devices like AirPods and other Bluetooth audio devices) are also projected to see large increases in adoption to the tune of 12.3% annually. The largest drivers of increased marketshare for the earwear category are biometric sensors and smart assistant features.
The category to see the largest percentage growth, according to the report, is in connected clothing. While the overall anticipated shipments (8.5 million by 2023) will likely pale in comparison to watches (131.3 million by 2023) and earwear (86.5 million by 2023), the category is project to see 30.2% annual growth. Currently connected clothing applications consist mostly of shoes with embedded pedometers, but enterprise could see adoption in the category for monitoring employees in potentially hazardous situations.
Overall, IDC is projecting an average 8.9% annual growth in the wearables market over the next 5 years, with Apple playing a pivotal role in at least 2 categories already (Apple Watch and AirPods). With those being the largest growth areas, it appears Apple is well positioned for continued success in wearables.
It is worth noting that absent from the report was any insight on the potential to see the eyewear category emerge. Currently, the wearable “smart glasses” market is limited to beta tested devices like Google Glass and concept/vaporware products like Microsoft’s Hololens. Rumors suggest Apple could be working on form of connected glasses, but at this point, there aren’t any signs that such a product is coming any time soon.