MARKET FORECAST: The future of the top five smart watch platforms revealed


Research house, IDC has delivered its verdict on the top five smart watch platforms and their prospects for the next four years. Here is its guide to where the market is headed.


watchOS will stay atop the smartwatch platform list throughout the forecast. The Series 2 Watch addresses some of the shortcomings of its Series 1 predecessor, but the lower price on the Series 1 (starting at $269 USD) may end up driving more volume in the upcoming holiday season. Still, these will be enough to keep watchOS the overall market leader, and future iterations of the watch with new body styles, materials, and cellular connectivity will help cement the company’s spot later in the forecast.


Android and Android Wear

Android and Android Wear will see the fastest growth of any platform on the list, and by 2020 will challenge watchOS for the top position in the worldwide smartwatch market. Support from OEMs both inside and outside of the IT industry will adopt Android Wear as the cornerstone of their smartwatch strategy, and in the process will address gaps in the product portfolio to lure new users.


Tizen will remain in third place throughout our forecast. This puts significant pressure on Samsung, Tizen’s sole supporter, to develop devices and platforms, and cultivate the application selection. Thus far, this has proved successful for Samsung, especially in launching its unique bezel-based interface and cellular-capable smart watches. What bears close observation is when watchOS and Android/Android Wear launch their own devices with similar features and capabilities.

Real-Time Operating System (RTOS)

RTOS encompasses proprietary operating systems that also allow for third party applications on smart watches. A prime example is Garmin’s suite of devices that connect to the company’s library of third party applications called Garmin IQ. IDC expects more vendors – particularly those specializing in fitness trackers – to follow suit with this same strategy in the years to come. This will help RTOS to emerge as the second-fastest growing platform in the worldwide smartwatch market.


Others includes Linux and Pebble OS, two platforms that are expected to decline over the course of the forecast period due to increasing pressure from market leaders. Still, these will appeal to select segments of the market, particularly brand loyalists and gadget tinkerers.

Top Five Smartwatch Platforms, Shipments, Market Share, and 5-Year CAGR (Units in Millions)
Smartwatch Platform 2016 Shipment Volumes* 2016 Market Share* 2020 Shipment Volumes* 2020 Market Share* 5-year CAGR
watchOS 10.5 52.3% 23.9 43.8% 15.5%
Android/Android Wear 4.6 22.9% 22.8 41.8% 44.4%
Tizen 2.6 12.7% 3.8 6.9% 9.4%
RTOS 2.1 10.2% 3.4 6.2% 35.7%
Others 0.4 1.8% 0.7 1.2% -7.1%
Total 20.1 100.0% 54.6 100.0% 23.0%
Source: IDC Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker, September 15, 2016



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