IDC Forecasts Double-Digit Growth in Wearables with Smartwatches and Wireless Headphones Leading the Way

Image: Apple

The latest IDC forecast paints a positive picture of the wearables market in 2019. The worldwide market for wearable devices, now inclusive of wireless headphones with smart assistants, is forecast to grow 15.3% over the previous year to 198.5 million units by the end of 2019, according to the International Data Corporation (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.

“Two major drivers for the wearables market are healthcare and enterprise adoption,” said Ramon T. Llamas, research director for IDC’s Wearables team. “Wearables stand to play an important role in digital health, constantly collecting important patient data while also giving patients the ability to self-monitor. “

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Continued proliferation of smartwatches, smart earbuds, and wrist-worn devices as well as further adoption in the healthcare will be propelling the growth. Looking ahead, the market is expected to reach 279 million units by the end of 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.9%, according to IDC.

“The rise of smart assistants on wearables, both wrist-worn and ear-worn, is a trend worth watching,” said Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s Mobile Device Trackers. “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.”

Here Are the Highlighted Categories


In 2018, smartwatches accounted for 44.2% of the wearables market, and it is anticipated to grow, reaching 47.1% in 2023. Apple will lead the way with its smartwatches and Apple’s own WatchOS will account for 27.5% of all watches in 2023. Hybrid smartwatches and kids’ watches will also continue to grow, according to IDC.

Worldwide wearables forecast by IDC

Smart Earbuds

Smart earbuds, also known as hearables will be the second largest category of wearables in 2023 with 31% share. The inclusion of biometric sensors and the adoption of smart assistants will help drive this category forward throughout the forecast.

Read more Children are Becoming Major Driving Force Behind the Wearable Market Growth in China

Smart Wristbands

Smart wristbands will experience flat growth with a CAGR of 0.7%. Meanwhile, growth in terms of dollar value is expected to decline with a -4.1% CAGR during the same period as average selling prices drop from $51 in 2019 to $42 in 2023. The market is already dominated by Chinese brands such as Huawei and Xiaomi, and IDC expects this to continue.

Smart Clothes

The smart clothes category will be led by smart shoes and similar devices. To date these types of products have mainly been popular in China but that is slowly changing as brands such as Nike and Under Armour make headway in other markets, the IDC forecast says.

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Cathy Russey () is Online Editor at WT | Wearable Technologies and specialized in writing about the latest medical wearables and enabling technologies on the market. Cathy can be contacted at info(at)