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Smart clothing and smartwatches will help double wearable market by 2021: IDC

  • IDC says the wearables market will double by 2021.
  • The market intelligence firm expects smartwatches and smart clothing to help propel that growth.
  • Smart wristbands will still be popular but will lose market share, it says.
Todd Haselton | CNBC

IDC said Wednesday the wearables market will nearly double by 2021, driven largely by increases in sales of smartwatches and smart clothing.

Smartwatches, while more popular than ever, still haven't become a must item for most people. Advances in health monitoring capabilities may help change that, IDC said. The market intelligence firm said it expects smartwatch shipments to increase from 71.4 million units in 2017 to 161 million units in 2021.

Smart clothing isn't really a "thing" most consumers can buy just yet, but that's changing. Google has been working with Levis on smart clothing, for example, and IDC says Chinese manufacturers are working on all sorts of apparel, including smart belts and shoes and socks. The smart clothing industry is expected to increase from 3.3 million units shipped this year to 21.6 million units in 2021.

IDC said it expects smart wristbands to remain popular but the market share will decline compared with other products on the market. It expects 47.6 million smart wristbands to sell this year, and that the figure will bump to 52.2 million units in 2021.