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Smart watches and ear devices to lead wearables growth, says IDC

Jasper Hart
June 21, 2019

Watches’ use cases to lure consumers from wristbands

Smart watches and ear-worn devices will account for more than 70 per cent of all wearable device shipments by 2023, according to new research from IDC.

The analyst firm estimates the number of global shipments for wearable devices in 2019 to reach 222.9 million, increasing to 302.3 million in 2023.

This will mean a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 7.9 per cent.

“Not only is the market diversifying in terms of form factors, but it is also diversifying in terms of connectivity and distribution,” said IDC mobile device tracker research manager Jitesh Ubrani.

“Among all watches, close to half will have the ability to connect to a cellular network by 2023 as consumers along with enterprises and healthcare look to free the watch from the phone and as telcos push forward subsidies or financing options for watches with cellular service.”

Watches are forecast to grow from 91.8 million units in 2019 to 131.6 million in 2023; a CAGR of 9.4 per cent. Apple will be a market-share leader by 2023, with 25.9 per cent.

IDC wearables research director Ramon T. Llamas added:” In addition to the proliferation of devices is the expansion of wearables’ use cases. Smart watches, as always, will still tell you the time, but will move deeper into health and fitness and connect with multiple applications and systems, both at work and within the home.

“Ear-worn devices, while still centred on providing audio, will nudge into other areas like language translation, smart assistant deployment, and coaching.”

Ear-worn devices are expected to grow from 72 million units in 2019 to 105.3 million in 2023, while wristbands will see flat shipment growth to 2023 with a predicted CAGR of 0.3 per cent, as users in mature markets such as North America and Europe will transition to smart watches.

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