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Expect to see many more Apple Watches and Android Wear smartwatches around town and in the workplace over the next few years, suggests new data from International Data Corporation's (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker.
Apple will ship 14 million Watches this year, more than twice the number Android Wear smartwatches that vendors are expected to ship this year (6.1 million) according to the latest wearables forecast from IDC. The Cupertino, Calif. device maker will capture 49.4 percent of the market compared to 21.4 percent for Android Wear smartwatches.
That gap is expected to narrow considerably by 2020, however.
IDC projects that Apple will ship 31 million Watches in 2020 and claim 37.6 percent of the market while Android Wear vendors ship 28.8 million units for 35 percent of the market. In any case, the smartwatch market is poised for a period of brisk growth.
Between 2016 and 2020, Apple Watch shipments will grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 22 percent. Meanwhile, Android Wear is expected to notch a CAGR of 48 percent.
Apple and Google may be responsible for the buzz surrounding smartwatches, but they don't have a final say on the direction the market is headed.
"Although smartwatches like the Apple Watch or Android Wear devices capture the spotlight, they will only account for a quarter of all wearables in 2016 and will grow to about a third by 2020. It's time to start thinking about smarter watches -- traditional watches with some sort of fitness or sleep tracking but are unable to run apps—built by classic watch makers," said IDC senior analyst Jitesh Ubrani in a statement.
Smartwatch app ecosystems are poised for a similar growth spurt, according to IDC research manager Ramon Llamas.
"We expect to see major changes, with smartwatches that actually look like watches, user interfaces that are easier than swipes and gestures, applications that rival those on our smartphones, and connections to networks, systems, and other devices. This puts pressure on smartwatch platforms to develop further from where they are today," said Llamas in a statement.
All told, vendors will ship 28.3 million smartwatches this year, a fraction of the 110 million wearable devices shipments expected to hit the market by the end of 2016. By 2020, IDC expects shipments of 237.1 million wearables, nearly twice that of this year's forecast.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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