Research firm IDC weighs in on wearables

Leading market research firm IDC has thrown its hat into the ring regarding market sizing for wearables. IDC’s predictions carry some weight, with a well-earned reputation for getting it right on the numbers. It has also just celebrated its 50th anniversary in number crunching for the ICT industry. So if you want accurate market share info, turn to IDC…

IDC’s press release predicts that shipments of wearables will reach 19.2 million worldwide in 2o14 – and accelerate rapidly to 118 millon (per year) in 2018. At last, new focus in the so-far wild world of market sizing predictions.

There’s no IDC tracker yet for wearables, but in the much-vaunted “year of wearable technology”, annual sales will triple in comparison to 2013, says lead IDC number cruncher Ramon Llamas. He thinks wearable tech “is finally expanding beyond early adopter status to more functional and stylish lifestyle accessories that are making their way onto the pages of GQ and Shape as well as Computerworld and Wired”.

But that’s where we start to wonder a little.

First, IDC attempts to create new definitions for different types of wearables:

  • Wristbands etc are “complex accessories”
  • It is not totally clear why in the press release, but smartwatches are “smart accessories”
  • Eyewear like Google Glass is “smart wearables”

Why are glasses ‘smart wearables’ while wristbands are not? ‘Slightly smart wearables’ maybe? Perhaps Ramon can explain.

Overall, IDC remains skeptical of the wearables industry, a comment which many news outlets have overlooked in their rush to report the authoritative market sizing info. Although confirming that smart wristbands will lead the market, IDC appears to be cautious of the smartwatch category, stating “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”.

Not only that, but also IDC states that the smart glasses accessories segment “must convince users to shift to a new user experience while offering them a robust selection of third-party applications” in order to succeed, adding that this is still an “if” not a “when” question.

To wrap up, IDC closes by making the odd claim that Samsung is the “most trusted brand in wearables”. Based on a survey of more than 50,000 consumers in 26 countries, Samsung is ranked “ahead of Apple, Sony, and Google”.

In Apple’s case especially, this is hardly surprising, since the company does not actually yet sell a wearable product – although there is a lot of hype around the iWatch – while Sony’s smart wristband “complex accessory” is still to go on general sale, and Google Glass is still in limited “Explorer” mode.

/WTW

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