Worldwide shipments of wearable devices are expected to reach 101.9 million units by the end of 2016, representing 29% growth over 2015, according to International Data Corp. The market for wearable devices will experience a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 20%, culminating in 213.6 million units shipped in 2020.

"Unlike the smartphone, which consolidated multiple technologies into one device, the wearables market is a collection of disparate devices," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

"Watches and bands are and always will be popular, but the market will clearly benefit from the emergence of additional form factors, like clothing and eyewear, that will deliver new capabilities and experiences,” Ubrani said.

Eyewear products have a clear focus on the enterprise to complement or replace existing computing devices, particularly for workers in the field or on the factory floor, Ubrani said. Meanwhile, clothing-based wearables will be aimed at consumers, offering the ability to capture new forms of descriptive and prescriptive data.

Two other factors driving the wearables market forward are cellular connectivity and applications. Cellular connectivity essentially frees wearables from being tethered to a smartphone, said Ramon Llamas, research manager for IDC's wearables program. Applications increase the value and utility of a wearable, he said.

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