The IDC Wearable Device Tracker forecasts shipments of 124.9 million wearables by the end of 2018, up 8.2% over 2017. In four years this will be 199.8 million per year.

In the past basic lower-cost wearables – fitness bands – have enjoyed growth. But advances in smartwatch functionality, IP ratings, a huge range of devices and costs have made fitness bands less desirable.

Ramon Llamas, research director for IDC Wearable Device Tracker team, said, “The smartwatches of 2022, even 2020, will make today’s smartwatches seem quaint.”

“Health and fitness is a strong start. But when you include cellular connectivity; integration with other Internet of Things (IoT) devices and systems; and how smartwatches can enable greater efficiencies, the smartwatch market is heading for steady growth in the years to come,” he added.

Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Wearable Device Tracker, said, “We expect the shift in consumer preferences towards smartwatches to continue. Apple will undoubtedly lead in this category. But Google and its partners deserve watching too.”

Ubrani was referring to Google’s WearOS (replacing Android Wear)

It is a real contender for Apple’s watchOS as it can act standalone or paired to a smartphone.

  • The rapid development of this new open source OS
  • Tight integration with Google Assistant, Phone, Messaging Calendar, Gmail, Pay
  • Apps from Uber to Maps
  • Chromecast
  • Lifestyle and fitness apps and integrated heart rate, GPS and third-party sensors
  • Play Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio
  • Works on Android and iOS
  • Partners include Asus, Broadcom, Casio, Diesel, Fossil, Gc, Hugo Boss, HTC, Huawei , Intel, Imagination Technologies, Kate Spade, LG, Louis Vuitton, Misfit, Michael Kors, MediaTek, Montblanc, Mobvoi, Motorola, Nixon, New Balance, Polar , Qualcomm, Samsung, Skagen, Swatch, TAG Heuer, Tommy Hilfiger, Xiamoi, and ZTE
  • The release of dedicated new silicon from Qualcomm
  • Works equally well on iOS or Android

Interestingly open-source Android-based watches will be WearOS’ closest competitor. Vendors can highly customise it, and it gets over the lack of Google services in China.