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Worldwide Wearable Computing Market Gains Momentum

Worldwide Wearable Computing Market Gains Momentum

With Shipments Reaching 19.2 Million in 2014 and Climbing to Nearly 112 Million in 2018, the worldwide wearable computing market (commonly referred to as "wearables") is finally expanding beyond early adopter status.

We will be watching closely to see when this useful tool will be adopted by Big Business as a tool, instead of the fashion and stylish lifestyle accessories that are making their way onto the pages of GQ and Shape as well as Computerworld and Wired.

Wearable Technology Demand

New research from IDC, says wearable’s took a huge step forward over the past year and shipment volumes will exceed 19 million units in 2014, more than tripling last year's sales. With the global market expected to grow to 111.9 million units in 2018, resulting in a compound annual growth rate of 78.4%.

Complex fashion accessories (e.g., Nike+ FuelBand, Jawbone UP, and Fitbit devices) will lead the wearables market through 2018 as users continue to embrace their simplicity and low price points. These devices are designed to operate partially independent of any other device, but fully operate when connected with IP-capable devices such as a smartphone, tablet, or a PC. "Complex accessories have succeeded in drawing much-needed interest and attention to a wearables market that has had some difficulty gaining traction," said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager, Mobile Phones. "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."

Another segment of the market, smart accessories, will gain momentum through the forecast period and surpass complex accessory shipments by 2018. Similar to complex accessories, with their dependence on connecting with IP-capable devices, smart accessories allow users to add third-party applications that boost features and functions for a more robust experience. While not quite ready for prime time, the smart accessory market will continue to mature as users better understand and accept the value proposition and vendors refine their offerings.

The third segment of the wearables market is smart wearables, such as Google Glass, which function with full autonomy, independent of any other device except to access the Internet. To succeed, smart wearable vendors must convince users to shift to a new user experience while offering them a robust selection of third-party applications. It is not a question of "if," but "when" wearables as a whole will extend into the enterprise.

Finally, according to the latest IDC ConsumerScape 360° survey of more than 50,000 consumers in 26 countries, Samsung, which has already unveiled multiple wearable computing devices, was identified as the most trusted brand for wearables, ahead of Apple, Sony, and Google.

The IDC study, Worldwide Wearable Computing Device 2014-2018 Forecast and Analysis (IDC #247318) presents the five-year forecast for the worldwide wearable computing devices market by product category. The worldwide wearable computing devices market will reach a total of 19.2 million units in 2014, driven primarily by complex accessories such as Fitbit devices, Jawbone's UP bracelet, and Nike+ FuelBand. Smart accessories, such as the Pebble smartwatch, Samsung GALAXY Gear, and the Sony SmartWatch, will also take a giant step forward, but their value proposition has yet to be completely clarified. Finally, smart wearables like Google Glass have yet to reach millions of units shipped. To this end, IDC believes that the runway for smart wearables is long, and it will not be until 2016 that we begin to see millions of units shipping.

Extracts from

‘Wearable tech is Google Glass and smartwatches. What else you got?‘   His extremely narrow and uninformed view of what wearable technology is or could be is frustrating. He was surprised that there is a trade show (The Wearable Technology Expo) for wearables and he feels that ‘wearable tech has no place in the consumer market.’ Tell that to the people who have been inspired to get into shape through using any number of wearable fitness tracker devices like Fitbit or Fuel, the heart conditions that have been caught using AliveCor, or any number of other health improving devices.

As for education, innovative applications for wearable technology are rapidly progressing. It’s an exciting time right now because new materials allow functionality not available before. In September an editorial came out on ZDNet by Ken Hess titled,