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Wearables not just a passing fad

IDC is predicting growth for the segment and that will have implications on networks

Smart watches are not just a fad and have a long term future with the uses starting to expand beyond being used for fitness and health applications.

Distribution has been actively getting into a position where it can support growing demand for wearables and the thoughts of IDC on the subject will be cheering.

The analyst house is forecasting 15.1% growth this year with 132.9m wearable devices being sold globally. That should continue with an annual compound annual growth rate of 13.4% over the next five years.

Smart watches might currently be largely about fitness but IDC is expecting the apps to expand and there could be implications on the corporate network.

"At present, fitness uses lead by a mile but mobile payments and messaging are starting to catch on. The addition of cellular connectivity is also starting to resonate with early adopters and looking ahead the emergence of new use cases like music streaming or additional health sensors will make cellular connectivity pivotal to the success of the smartwatch," said  Jitesh Ubrani senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

The analyst house is also expecting that the current crop of wearable offerings will get more competition and lower price points will also fuel future growth. For now Apple leads the market with a number of other brands, including Android alternatives, trailing behind.

Some of the future investments that will be required will include spending on 5G networks as well as building faster communication capabilities into future products.

“Major players are investing in 5G-ready hardware, with a focus on greater speed and connectivity,” said Dr Raj Partheban, founder of start-up WITgrip (Wearable Interactive Technology grip). “However, to benefit from these new technologies people will need a new and different way to use, and interact, with their mobile devices.”

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