IDC’s latest report is out today with new estimates based on worldwide wearable shipments, and in it is a prediction that Apple Watch will hold the market lead this year and through 2020 as competitors begin to close the gap.

While the report shows estimates based on overall wearable shipments, which IDC says will go from 72.2 million last year to 100 million in 2016 for watch and wristband products, it also shows a breakdown of estimates for leading smartwatch platforms by operating system…

That gives us a good look at the state of the smartwatch industry from the perspective of Apple Watch versus all of Android Wear and other mechanical smartwatch devices. IDC’s data shows that Apple should hold the lead in 2016 with an expected 14 million units shipped, over double the shipment estimate of 6.1 million Android Wear devices for this year. That would give Apple 49.4% of the smartwatch market this year versus 21.4% for Android Wear.

That’s despite what IDC points out will likely be “some slowdown in the early part of 2016” for Apple ahead of a second generation device:

Apple’s watchOS is likely to see some slowdown in the early part of 2016 as anticipation builds for the second generation device. However, with newer hardware and an evolving ecosystem, Apple will remain the smartwatch leader through the majority of the forecast.

Apple is expected to launch new first-gen Apple Watch configurations at its March 21st press event next week that will consist of new colors and bands for the spring, but that will be considered a minor refresh for the first-generation device ahead of a full-fledged Apple Watch 2 expected for later this year.

But going forward, IDC expects Apple will only slightly hold onto its lead as Android Wear closes the gap and almost entirely catches up to Apple Watch by the end of 2019. In 2020, IDC expects Apple Watch will sell 31 million units for 37.6% of the market while it estimates Android Wear to sell 28 million units and grab 35% market share.


The rest of the market is made up of devices running Real-Time Operating System (RTOS), Tizen, Android, Linux, and Pebble OS, and IDC predicts only RTOS and Android devices to experience minor growth into 2020 as other operating systems drop.

Last month, IDC showed that Apple Watch, with around 4.1 million units sold in Q4 2015, was number two behind only Fitbit for not just smartwatch shipments, but the entire wearables market.

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About the Author

Jordan Kahn

Jordan writes about all things Apple as Senior Editor of 9to5Mac, & contributes to 9to5Google, 9to5Toys, & He also co-authors 9to5Mac’s Logic Pros series.