Wearable tech shipments to pass 100 million by 2018, says IDC

With shipments expected to reach 19 million this year, IDC thinks wearables will finally move beyond early-adopter status.
Written by Natalie Gagliordi, Contributor

While implying that wearables are on the fast track to becoming "stylish lifestyle accessories" could be a bit of a stretch, the latest growth forecast from IDC suggests that the global market for wearables will swell to 111.9 million units in 2018, resulting in a CAGR of more than 78 percent.

IDC says the buzz factor surrounding wearable technology has prompted more vendors to enter the market, as well as a softening of consumer sentiment toward adopting the technology.

According to Ramon Llamas, IDC's research manager for mobile phones:

Complex accessories have succeeded in drawing much-needed interest and attention to a wearables market that has had some difficulty gaining traction. The increased buzz has prompted more vendors to announce their intentions to enter this market. Most importantly, end-users have warmed to their simplicity in terms of design and functionality, making their value easy to understand and use.

IDC breaks down wearables into three segments — complex accessories, smart accessories and smart wearables. The complex accessories are the Nike+ FuelBand and Fitbit devices, which IDC said will lead the wearables market through 2018 as users continue to embrace their simplicity and low price points.

Smart accessories differ from complex in the segment's ability to add third-party applications, but IDC said the category is not quite ready for prime time, as vendors work to refine offerings and users accept the value proposition. 

Smart wearables are defined by Google Glass, and IDC says this segment will function with full autonomy, independent of any other device except to access the Internet. Success in this segment hinges on vendors' ability (namely Google) to convince users to shift to the new user experience. 

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