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Smartwatches will continue to dominate wearables into 2022, predicts IDC

They'll also play a "critical role" in tracking your health, says the market researcher.

Smartwatches, like the Apple Watch, are expected to continue their reign in the wearables market. 
Josh Miller/CNET

Smartwatches will continue to lead the wearables market into 2022, according to a forecast from market researcher IDC. 

Global shipments of wearable devices will reach 125.3 million units this year, up 8.5 percent from 2017, and will reach 189.9 million units in 2022, IDC said Monday. Shipments of watches this year are expected to hit 72.8 million units, with about two-thirds of the total being smartwatches. They should hit 120.2 million by 2022. 

WatchOS, which powers the Apple Watch, will keep its spot as the top operating system in the wearables market, though its share will decline from 44.4 percent this year to 35.8 percent in 2022. Android devices will have a 22.4 percent share of the wearables market by 2022, followed by WearOS with a 19.8 percent share, according to IDC.

"Smartwatch operating systems will emphasize connection, not only between users but between wearers and other smart devices and systems," said Ramon Llamas, research director at IDC, in a press release. "Expect further developments focusing on health with the smartwatch playing a critical role in tracking your health goals and detecting potential ailments."

Smartwatches and wristbands will dominate the wearables market, according to IDC. "Earwear" -- like wireless headphones and earbuds -- and smart clothing will grow their market shares as well.