The global wearables market is expected to grow substantially over the next four years.
Along with that growth, segments of the wearables market are expected to shift toward specialized niche products, according to a new IDC study.
By 2021, more than 237 million wearables will be shipped worldwide, up from 102 million last year, according to IDC.
The market will be led by smartwatches and other wristband wearables, with 152 million and 58 million, respectively.
"With the shift towards watches and clothing, the need of a fashionable design will take center stage," Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst at IDC, said in a statement. "Tech companies will be forced to step up their game and offer a wider selection of sizes, materials, and designs in order to appeal to a broader audience.”
To do this, IDC expects more partnering between wearables brands and fashion brands.
“In doing so, wearables will be made available to a previously unaware audience – one that frequents fashion outlets over tech outlets," Ubrani stated.
The smartwatch market is also expected to shift away from non-specialized product offerings.
"Watches struggled as mass market devices due to limited and unclear value proposition to a broad base of potential users," stated Ramon Llamas, wearables research manager at IDC. "Most potential customers saw watches performing multiple functions, but none of them worked exceptionally well to accomplish a myriad of tasks.”
As a result, the smartwatch market will become highly fragmented with specialized niche products, including connected kids watches, luxury and fashion watches, athletic watches and lifestyle watches.
“Not all of them will have the same features, but they will have enough, and the rights ones, to do the job," Llamas stated.
Other wearables markets, such as connected clothes and hearables, are also expected to shift toward the specialized niche product approach.
“Companies are augmenting earwear with fitness tracking and smart coaching, while others are focusing on enhancing audio or providing real-time language translation,” Llamas stated.
“In both cases, the wearable is not taking a one-size fits all approach, and instead concentrates on specific solutions for specific use cases."
Connected clothing will experience the most growth of all wearables segments. More than 22 million connected clothing items will be shipped in 2021, up from 1 million last year, according to IDC.
By 2021, the leading device category will be the smartwatch. Here’s the projected market share by device by 2021, according to IDC: