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Wearable tech market cools, as consumers step back

Wearable tech, which was seeing sizzling sales growth a year ago, is cooling this year amid consumer hesitation over new devices, a new survey shows.

The research firm IDC says it expects global sales of wearables to grow some 29.4 per cent to some 103 million units in 2016.

That follows 171 per cent growth in 2015, fuelled by the launch of the Apple Watch and a variety of fitness bands.

Smartwatch makers look for new angles to boost waning sales

“It is increasingly becoming more obvious that consumers are not willing to deal with technical pain points that have to date been associated with many wearable devices,” says IDC analyst Ryan Reith.

So-called basic wearables – including fitness bands and other devices that do not run third party applications – will make up the lion’s share of the market, with some 80.7 million units shipped this year, according to IDC.

IDC says smartwatch shipments are likely to grow just 3.9 per cent, held back by a delayed release of the upgraded Apple Watch, which went on sale in mid-September.

IDC analyst Ramon Llamas says the market “is moving in fits and starts” and could see stronger growth with the release of new and upgraded devices.

“Smart eyewear is going to take off with the use of augmented and virtual reality,” he says.

Some items of smart clothing, such as connected jackets or footwear, could also drive the market, Llamas adds.