​Smartwatch shipments to show so-so growth in 2016, says IDC

Smartwatches have failed to get their footing as a category as basic wearables continue to grow units, according to IDC data.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

Global smartwatch shipments will hit 20.1 million units in 2016, up just 3.9 percent from 2015, according to IDC projections. IDC, however, sees 50 million units by 2020.

The biggest takeaway from IDC's forecast is that the smartwatch category remains a work in progress. According to IDC, a smartwatch is defined as a wearable that can run third party apps. Think Apple Watch, Samsung Gear S3, and Moto 360. IDC also considers smart glasses and advanced wristbands as smart wearables too.

Basic wearables are more like fitness trackers in IDC's taxonomy. These basic wearables can be wristbands, watches, and clothing. Think Fitbit and Garmin Vivofit. Basic wearables will hit 80.7 million units in 2016, up from 58.8 million in 2015.

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IDC argues that smartwatches will take off when they get their own cell connections. Better pricing will help too.

By platform, IDC sees Apple's watchOS as the top operating system. Apple's Series 2 Watch should boost adoption as well the Series 1, which now starts at $269. Android Wear will be right alongside watchOS by 2020. For now though, CNET reported key Android brands are holding off on smartwatch upgrades.

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