Android Catching Up To Apple In Smartwatches

The smartwatch race is on.

Despite the recent introduction of the latest iteration of the Apple Watch, growth of smartwatches at least this year will grow only slightly, according to the latest tracking numbers.

The total number of smartwatches hitting the market this year will reach 20 million devices, growth of 4% from a year ago, according to the new International Data Corporation (IDC) worldwide quarterly tracking report.

For counting purposes, smartwatches are those that can run third-party applications, such as Apple Watch, Samsung’s Gear S3, Motorola’s Moto 360 and Pebble Watch.

The overall larger category of smart wearable devices also includes smart glasses and certain wristbands. 

Both of these categories are dwarfed by the size of the basic wearables market. Those devices don’t run third-party apps and include Fitbit’s fitness tracker, Garmin’s Vivofit devices and Xiami’s MiBand.

But there’s a lot of money in the smart device category, with smartwatches dominating with an expected $18 billion in revenue by 2020.

For context, shipments of smart wearables this year will reach 22 million devices compared to 81 million basic wearables.

Viewed another way, basic wearables this year will account for 79% of wearables with smart wearables accounting for the rest.

However, smartwatches are coming on strong and will make up 34% of the wearables market by 2020, according to IDC.

The interesting twist here is that Android wearable products are growing in a big way, posing a  challenge to Apple’s watch supremacy.

The smartwatch horse race is expected to tighten, and by 2020 Apple will have 44% of the market with Android Wear at a close second at 42%.

This will be a significant change from today when Apple Watch accounts for more than half (52%) of the entire smartwatch market with Android at a mere 23%. Here’s what the smartwatch market share will look like in 2020, according to IDC:

  • 44% -- Apple
  • 42% -- Android
  • 7% -- Tizen
  • 6% -- RTOS

That last category, real-time operating systems, encompasses proprietary systems that also allow for third-part apps, like some Garmin’s devices. More such suppliers are expected to join this category, especially in the area of fitness trackers.

But just as in smartphones, the battle to watch is between Apple and Google.

Apple Watch sales are a track to grow 16% over five years while Android is looking at 44% growth.

No matter the growth size of the smartphone marketplace, by 2020 basic wearables still will account for 66% of anything being worn on the wrist.

And those are big numbers.

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