Wearables shipments to reach 213.6M worldwide in 2020, IDC says

In contrast to smartphones, the wearables market will benefit from the emergence of different form factors, like eyewear or clothing, the research firm says.

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Wearables shipments will more than double by 2020, research firm IDC predicts, reaching 213.6 million units. Its latest report shows wearables devices are expected to reach 101.9 million units by the end of this year, representing 29 percent growth over 2015.

In contrast to smartphones -- which consolidate technologies -- the wearables market will benefit from the emergence of different form factors, like eyewear or clothing, the research firm says.

"Eyewear has a clear focus on the enterprise as it stands to complement or replace existing computing devices, particularly for workers in the field or on the factory floor," senior research analyst Jitesh Ubrani said in a statement. "Meanwhile, clothing will take aim at the consumer, offering the ability to capture new forms of descriptive and prescriptive data."

While fitness-focused wrist bands have dominated the market so far, IDC expects to see watches challenge that in the next few years. By 2020, it predicts that watches will account for more than 52 percent of wearables shipments, up from 41 percent this year. The category includes smartwatches like the Apple Watch and Moto 360, but it also includes basic watches that don't run third-party applications but have some connected component like a fitness or sleep tracker.

IDC predicts that eyewear will account for just 10 percent of wearables shipments by 2020 but more than 40 percent of total revenue from the market thanks to the potential for specialized commercial devices. And while there should be some growth in the market for smart clothing -- see Google and Levi's smart jacket -- IDC predicts that other, random form factors like clip-on devices, hearables and helmets will shrink as a segment of the market.

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