The worldwide wearable tech market is set to explode in popularity in the next few years, with 149.5 million shipments in 2021. That’s according to leading industry analyst International Data Corporation (IDC), who states that more vendors – particularly fashion brands – and cellular connectivity built into smartwatches helps to drive growth in the category.

That 149.5 million figure would be more than double the estimated 61.5 million shipments for this year and IDC claims that smartwatches will be the form factor powering the boom.

Although activity and fitness trackers – like the Fitbit Alta HR and the Garmin Vivofit 3 – are currently leading the way with a forecasted 45 million shipments in 2017 (39.8 percent market share), IDC forecasts only single digit year on year growth for this genre and states that smartwatches, such as the Android Wear range and the Apple Watch series, will hit 71.5 million shipments by 2021.

The report claims that hybrid smart watches – as we’ve seen with the likes of the Nokia Steel HR and the Mondaine Smart Helvetica No.1 – will have the largest slice of the wearable tech pie by 2021, with a staggering 78 million shipments; more than a 35 percent market share.

“The move from wristbands to watches introduces additional revenue opportunities for vendors and distributors as average selling prices are expected to rise,” said Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

“However, the struggle to move beyond health and fitness persists and convincing consumers to spend more for utility that may not be immediately obvious will be a challenge. This is where fashion-forward brands have a chance to shine as their customer base doesn’t tend to prioritize features.”

Fashion will also play a part in what IDC sees as one of the key growth areas for wearable tech – smart clothing. We’ve already seen Google partnering up with Levi’s to produce a smart denim jacket and sports apparel companies such as Under Armour and Adidas baking tech into their kits and IDC states that the market will grow substantially in the next four years, from 2.1 million shipments to 11.5 million.

 

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