Wearables set for explosive growth, study shows

Although wearable device shipment volumes will reach just 19 million units in 2014, that figure will grow to 111.9 million in 2018, according to IDC research.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read

Google Glass Google
The wearable technology space might be in its early adopter phase right now, but according to new data from research firm IDC, the mainstream will start getting into the game very soon.

By the end of this year, over 19 million wearable devices will ship worldwide, tripling last year's figure, IDC reported on Thursday. Between now and 2018, wearable shipments will generate a 78.4 percent compound annual growth rate, eventually hitting 111.9 million worldwide shipments in 2018 alone.

Wearable technology has become a hot market in the tech industry. Companies like Nike, Samsung, Fitbit, Jawbone, and others, are all offering different wearable devices, and IDC expects many more companies to join the fray in the coming years.

Apple has been the subject of the most rumors surrounding companies getting into wearable tech. It's believed that the iPhone maker is working on a smartwatch, possibly to be known as iWatch, that will take on Samsung's Gear 2 smartwatch, the Pebble, and other such devices. The latest rumors suggest iWatch will launch sometime this year.

Regardless of when Apple joins the market, the company might have some work cut out for it. IDC surveyed over 50,000 consumers across 26 countries to see which company they believe is the most trustworthy wearable device maker. Samsung was voted tops, followed by Apple, Sony, and Google.

As IDC points out, Samsung has stood out from the rest of the pack in wearables, offering devices in the still-nascent market. Apple, meanwhile, hasn't launched any wearable tech, which might be why it scored lower. Still, Samsung isn't going anywhere, and if the company can deliver high-quality products, Apple might have its work cut out for it.

IDC was able to break down the wearables market into three segments: complex accessories, smart accessories, and smart wearables. IDC believes that complex accessories, like the Nike+ FuelBand or Jawbone Up, will lead the wearable business over the next four years, due to their "simplicity and low price points."

The big question mark for the industry right now, however, is whether smart wearables, like Google Glass, or other products that can function without the help of another device, can succeed.

"Smart wearable vendors must convince users to shift to a new user experience while offering them a robust selection of third-party applications," IDC said.

CNET has contacted IDC for more insight into its findings. We will update this story when we have more information.