IDC: Apple to lead smartwatch shipments for next four years

By Aditi Pai
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The global wearable device market will ship 214 million units in 2019, up from the 80 million units expected to ship this year, according to a report from research firm IDC. This growth will be driven by smartwatches.

"In a short amount of time, smartwatches have evolved from being extensions of the smartphone to wearable computers capable of communications, notifications, applications, and numerous other functionalities," Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's wearables team said in a statement. "The smartwatch we have today will look nothing like the smartwatch we will see in the future. Cellular connectivity, health sensors, not to mention the explosive third-party application market all stand to change the game and will raise both the appeal and value of the market going forward.”

In 2016, 111.1 million wearable device units will ship, and of those, 34.3 million units will be smartwatches, up from 21.4 million in 2015. IDC forecasts that in 2019, total smartwatch shipments will reach 88.3 million.

IDC also predicts that Apple will lead the smartwatch category. The research firm said that in 2015, the Apple Watch will have 61.3 percent market share among smartwatches and will ship 13 million units. Although the shipments of Apple Watch will increase in 2019, reaching 45.2 million units, the company’s market share will lower to 51 percent.

Following Apple Watch, Android Wear has the second largest market share, 15.2 percent. In 2015, 3.2 million Android Wear units will ship, but this will increase to 34.3 million units in 2019. And in 2019, Android Wear’s market share will increase to 38.8 percent.

According to IDC, the other smartwatch brands, including Linux, Tizen, and Pebble will have 1 or 2 percent market share in 2019, even though in 2015 IDC estimates that Pebble and Tizen will have 8 percent of the market share each in 2015.

In August, another report from IDC found that in the second quarter of 2015, Apple shipped 3.6 million units of the Apple Watch globally, just under Fitbit's 4.4 million units. Fitbit had the largest market share, 24.3 percent, though its share was 6 percent less than it was in the second quarter of 2014. Meanwhile, Apple, which only began shipping its device this year, had 19.9 percent market share in the second quarter.

A month ago, a report from Argus Insights, published in advance of the start of the holiday shopping season, found that Apple Watch tops the demand for consumer smartwatches. Argus based the report on the research firm's analysis of 6,000 global reviews and social media conversations,