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Wearable Tech

​Your smartwatch skepticism could evaporate by 2020

Sales of smartwatches should more than triple in the next few years, analyst firm IDC predicts, though they still don't look as essential as phones.

​The Apple Watch Series 2, unlike its predecessor, can be used swimming.

The Apple Watch Series 2, unlike its predecessor, can be used swimming.

CNET

If you're not convinced smartwatches are worth buying, you're not alone. But you might change your mind by 2020, when sales are expected to surge, according to analyst firm IDC.

From 2015 to 2016, smartwatch shipments worldwide will rise a mere 3.9 percent from 19.4 million to 20.1 million, IDC said Thursday. But by 2020 it should grow to a whopping 76.6 million units, with smartwatch makers pulling in $17.8 billion in sales.

That's good news for gadget makers. Companies like Apple and Samsung have aggressively pushed their wrist-mounted computing devices, but have yet to persuade most of us they're more than an expensive accessory. The new Apple Watch Series 2 unveiled last week starts at $369, with prices nearly quadrupling if you want top-end cosmetic options like a ceramic housing.

Apple should ship 10.5 million smartwatches this year, IDC expects, more than half the market. Rival models powered by Google's Android Wear software are in next place with 4.6 million units shipped. By 2020, Android should nearly catch up, IDC forecasts, with 22.8 million shipments to Apple's WatchOS at 23.9 million.

Lower-end wearable computing devices like Fitbit activity monitors are cheaper and sell better than smartwatches.