IDC report: Wearables shipments forecast to rise from 19.6 to 45.7 million by end of 2015

We've been told that wearables would be popular for a couple of years, but haven't seen adoption in the numbers experts expected. With the Apple Watch and improvements across the market, 2015 looks to be the year of the wearable.

The promise of wearables has not yet been realized, but according to an IDC report 2015 may be the year we finally see widespread adoption.

IDC states that 19.6 million units were shipped in 2014. It expects 45.7 million by the end of 2015, a 133.4 percent increase over 2014. IDC also offers up predictions out to 2019, but I think that is too far forward for a market with unknown potential and changing technology.

Wearables are broken down into the following product categories; wristwear, modular, clothing, eyewear, and earwear. Wristwear includes bands, bracelets, and watches. Over 90 percent of the 2014 market was wristwear with nearly 90 percent predicted for 2015.

(Image: IDC)

IDC considers wearables that run third party application to be counted as smart wearables with other wearable devices categorized as basic wearables. IDC predicts smart wearables will grow from 4.2 million units shipped in 2014 to 25.7 million by the end of 2015. Like the iPhone, the Apple Watch is predicted to help Apple and other makers of smart wearables as awareness is brought to the masses through Apple marketing.

Ryan Reith, program director with IDC's worldwide quarterly device trackers, stated:

The explosion of wearable devices was clearly led by fitness bands, which until recently commanded prices that provided comfortable margins, but those days are changing. The price of these fitness bands have come down so significantly in some markets that smartphone OEMs are now bundling them with smartphones at little cost. Meanwhile, the market is quickly shifting toward higher-priced devices that offer greater functionality. While Apple's entry into the market is symbolic, the key to success will be to create compelling use cases for the average consumer. Many users will need a good reason to replace a traditional watch or accessory with a wrist-worn device or some other form of wearable that will likely require daily charging and occasional software upgrades.

I've been using wearable devices for many years and agree that they are getting significantly better and more useful as the technology and connectivity advances. Devices such as the Fitbit Surge improve with software updates and track an increased amount of data. There is a significant variety of devices available to meet the varied needs of all of us, but we have not yet reached a point where any single wearable dominates the market. It doesn't look like the first generation Apple Watch will do that either.