Hands up if you stood in line to buy the latest wearable. Anyone? Anyone? Bueller…?

That’s not much of a surprise; according to International Data Corporation (IDC), there aren’t a lot of people in the MEA (Middle East and Africa) region who wanted to stay in touch through a smartwatch.

Tracking sales figures for seven major countries in the Middle East and Africa, the IDC concluded that less than 420 000 wearables have been sold in the first quarter of the year.

While that really isn’t a lot, those figures are at least better than they were last year: IDC also reported a 65% year-on-year increase in sales of wearables across the region, given that there were fewer models available this time last year.

“This growth has been spurred by a number of factors, including declining average selling prices, new product launches, the entrance of lower-cost wearables, and the introduction of sleeker design,” explained Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

But even with the 65% increase in sales, the IDC pegs the slow uptake of wearables on being too expensive for what they offer for most buyers. Even within the wearable market, there is a distinct split between “basic wearables” and “smart wearables”.

Basic wearables (ones that aren’t capable of running third-party applications) have a 71% market share, while smart wearables only make up 29% of the market in the region.

“This dominance can be attributed to the growing popularity of fitness bands, which have been flooding into the market for a while now, proving to be a big hit with consumers,” the IDC said.

But that should shift in the coming years, as the IDC predicts that with the increasing popularity of smartwatches, the wearables market will see a compound annual growth rate of 20.1% for the 2016–2020 period.

“The growth will be further augmented by the launch of new wearable products in the clothing, eyewear, earwear categories, among others,” says Fouad Rafiq Charakla, a senior research manager for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey.

“IDC expects vendors to step up their new product launches in the MEA market as share gain becomes the name of the game. We also anticipate new operating systems and versatile pools of applications to emerge in order to support all these new devices,” he concluded.

[Source – IDC]


Charlie started his professional life as a motoring journalist for a community newspaper in Mpumalanga, Charlie explored different journalistic angles since his entry into the fast-paced world of publishing in 2006. While fostering a passion for the arts, Charlie developed a love for technology – both which allowed him to serve as Entertainment and Technology Editor for an online publication. Charlie has since been heavily involved in consumer technology for various websites and publications. He thoroughly enjoys World War II films and cerebral documentaries; aviation; photography and indie music. Oh yes, and he also has a rather strange obsession with collecting coffee mugs from his travels.