Wearables Market Forecasted to Grow 38.2 Percent in 2016

Study also predicts reduced market saturation for Apple and Android Wear

Apple and Android Wear may be the current top dogs in the wearable-device market—together capturing around 70 percent of the wearables market.

But a study released last week authored by tech consulting firm International Data Corp. (IDC) predicts that a host of well-designed, less tech-looking products from smaller manufacturers will demote the brands’ combined market share to roughly 25 percent in 2016.

Analysts at IDC, which tracks the tech industry, also predict that the wearables category will experience 38.2 percent growth this year and will continue with double-digit gains “through at least 2020.”

Discussing smart products that could potentially loom large in 2016, IDC senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement, “It’s time to start thinking about smarter watches—traditional watches with some sort of fitness or sleep tracking but are unable to run apps—built by classic watchmakers. These devices have the potential of making the technology invisible while still integrating themselves within day-to-day activities.”

Think TAG Heuer’s Connected watch, Tissot’s Smart-Touch timepiece, and Bulgari’s Diagono Magnesium watch (pictured, above).

The study also states that shipments of smartwatches and wristbands will reach 100 million units in 2016, up from the 72.2 million in 2015. Smart “others”—hearables, teched up clothes, etc.—will further saturate the market, but smartwatches will dominate, according to IDC.

Ubrani also echoed, albeit indirectly, what experts in the industry have been saying for a while—that many smart-device manufacturers go overboard with functionality, rendering products confusing or unappealing to less tech-savvy users. “There’s plenty of room for simpler devices that appeal to the average user,” he said.

Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC’s wearables unit, said, “We expect to see major changes, with smartwatches that actually look like watches, user interfaces that are easier than swipes and gestures, applications that rival those on our smartphones, and connections to networks, systems, and other devices. This puts pressure on smartwatch platforms to develop further from where they are today.”

And that’s good new for watch and jewelry retailers who may be ready to dip a toe into carrying wearables but are hesitant to stock a product that strays too far from traditional watch/jewelry formats. If IDC is correct, there will soon be more options in connected baubles that look and feel old-school instead of space-age—an aesthetic that, ironically, is starting to look a little dated.

(Photo courtesy of Bulgari)

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