Smartwatches to rule nearly half of wearables market by 2022, says IDC

But good old wristbands will still have their place.

Marrian Zhou Staff Reporter
Marrian Zhou is a Beijing-born Californian living in New York City. She joined CNET as a staff reporter upon graduation from Columbia Journalism School. When Marrian is not reporting, she is probably binge watching, playing saxophone or eating hot pot.
Marrian Zhou
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Smartwatches may be having their moment, but basic wearables like step-counting wristbands haven't yet run out of time.

So says market researcher IDC, which predicted on Thursday that shipments of smartwatches will nearly double by 2022, clocking in at 94.3 million units. That's nearly half the total number of wearables to be shipped the same year, which IDC says should be 190.4 million.

"The shift from basic wearables to smartwatches is well on its way," Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst at IDC, said in a release. Still, fitness bands will have their place as a cheaper, simpler option, and in some cases they'll beef up their offerings.

"We also expect these devices will bring a more smartwatch-like experiences to the table," Ramon Llamas, research director for IDC's Wearables team, said in the release. "Meanwhile, clothing and earwear will post market-beating growth with use cases that go well beyond their primary functions."

Earwear shipments will grow six times, to 12.3 million, by 2022, making earwear the fastest-growing type of wearable, IDC said. Experts predict that features like smart assistants, fitness tracking and real-time language translation will be added to earwear.

The Apple Watch should continue to top the wearables market, though its market share will decrease by roughly 10 percent, IDC said. Android-driven gadgets will wind up in second place.