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Wearable Tech

Smartwatches, wireless headphones will lead to double-digit wearables growth, says IDC

The market will grow 15.3 percent by the end of 2019, according to the market research firm.

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Angela Lang/CNET

Bright days are ahead for wearables. 

The worldwide wearables market will grow 15.3 percent by the end of this year, according to a Monday forecast from market researcher IDC. Shipments of wearables will reach 198.5 million units by the end of 2019, and 279 million units by the end of 2023, the firm predicts.

Much of that growth will be driven by the rapid increase of watches, ear-worn devices and wrist bands, IDC says. Greater adoption in health care will also contribute to growth. 

"Wearables stand to play an important role in digital health, constantly collecting important patient data while also giving patients the ability to self-monitor," IDC research director Ramon Llamas said in a press release.

Watches made up just over 44 percent of the wearables market in 2018, and they'll account for a larger share in the years to come, IDC says, reaching 47.1 percent in 2023. Apple will lead the charge, the market researcher predicts, and WatchOS will make up 27.5 percent of all watches in 2023. Hybrid watches and kids' watches will also see growth, though it won't be as extreme.

Hearables, or ear-worn devices, will account for 31 percent of the wearables market in 2023. The inclusion of smart assistants will give them a boost, IDC says.

"The rise of smart assistants on wearables, both wrist-worn and ear-worn, is a trend worth watching," said IDC research manager Jitesh Ubrani in the release. "Though still in its infancy, the integration of these assistants with wearables opens up new use cases, from allowing these devices to tie into the smart home to making the devices more proactive at urging users to live healthier or more productive lives."

Wristbands will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 0.7 percent, but growth in relation to dollar value will drop with a -4.1 percent CAGR as average prices go from $51 in 2019 to $42 in 2023, IDC says. The market will continue to be dominated by brands like Huawei and Xiaomi.

Connected clothing, a segment of the market that's mostly been popular in China but is gaining ground elsewhere, will make up 3.1 percent of the wearables market in 2023, according to IDC. It'll mostly consist of step-counting shoes and devices with similar capabilities. 

Wearables, which were once the subject of gloomy forecasts, have since seen more positive outlooks. In September, IDC predicted smartwatches would make up nearly half of the wearables market by 2022.