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IDC says smartwatches kind of aren’t catching on

Although many of us are proud owners of smartwatches, IDC numbers indicate that the market is at a crawl, especially when compared to basic wearables.
September 16, 2016

We’ve seen from polls that many of our readers are proud smartwatch owners, but it seems like these handy wearables just aren’t catching the eye of the populace at large. IDC predicts that somewhere around 20.1 million smartwatches will ship in 2016.

If that number seems large, you should take into consideration that that’s up less than 4 percent from last years shipments, and IDC says they’re not expecting a 50 million unit ship until 2020.

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So the market is growing, if slowly, but smartwatches certainly haven’t become the ubiquitous triumph of convenient technology that are our smartphones.

What’s interesting is that basic wearables, like Fitbits, are on the rise. IDC differentiates smartwatches and basic wearables by the devices’ ability to run third-party apps. In contrast to smartwatches, 80.7 million basic wearables are expected to ship in 2016. That’s a 37 percent increase over last year’s 58.8 million figure.

Smartwatches are likely held back by their higher price tags and lack of widespread cellular connectivity. Once technology develops to a point where lower price points can be targeted and 4G (or 5G) service on smartwatches becomes par for the course, then IDC expects the smartwatch market to take off.

But for now, it’s in a crawl.

What do you think of the latest numbers from IDC? Are you a smartwatch owner? If not, what has kept you from buying one? Sound off in the comments below!

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