Believe it or not, global sales of wearable devices could still grow this year

Believe it or not, global sales of wearable devices could still grow this year
Global sales of devices like smartphones, smartwatches, and other types of wearables are probably the last things on most people's minds right now, but market analysts will keep doing what they normally do for the foreseeable future, trying to anticipate the impact the ongoing coronavirus pandemic might have on some of the most successful segments of the far-reaching tech industry.

The International Data Corporation, for instance, still expects 2020 shipments of wearable devices to exceed last year's total of 336.5 million units. But while that 2019 tally represented a massive jump of 89 percent from the overall global shipments of 2018, this year's newly projected result of 368.2 million units would only mark a small increase of less than 10 percent.

The market slowdown is attributed entirely to COVID-19, which has already negatively affected both the supply and demand of wearables around the world and is likely to continue doing so through the end of the year's first half (at the very least). In the long run, however, the IDC maintains its optimistic outlook, forecasting a solid five-year compound annual growth rate of 9.4 percent that would boost the wearable industry to a grand total of nearly 530 million unit sales in 2024.

While low-cost wristbands, aka activity or fitness trackers, are largely expected to stay flat, accounting for a smaller and smaller piece of the overall pie in the next few years, "hearables" will continue to reign supreme, looking at a major increase in annual shipments from a little over 200 million to more than 300 million units by 2024. If you're not familiar with that term, it essentially designates the Apple-dominated market of true wireless earbuds.

The "watches" category, comprised of both smartwatches and "basic" (or hybrid) watches, is also projected to grow at a rapid pace, thanks primarily to Apple, which will "undoubtedly remain in the lead" as far as the global vendor chart is concerned. Somewhat surprisingly, the IDC thinks Wear OS smartwatches will finally catch on... at some point during this five-year forecast, slowly gaining share to capture 16.9 percent of the market by the end of the period covered in the new report.

That number doesn't include sales of "Android-based" smartwatches like Oppo's recently unveiled Apple Watch clone, mind you, which are separately expected to account for "a little over" 25 percent of the worldwide total "throughout the forecast."

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