Report: 72.1 million wearable devices to ship this year

About 72.1 million wearable devices will be shipped this year, a new report estimates, a clear sign that the market will not be slowing down anytime soon.

An uptick in popularity for the tools likely is being spurred, in part, by Fitbit's decision to go public. The wearable company exceeded expectations on its opening day Thursday with a starting trade value of $20 a share--$1 more than the expected high pricing of $19. The share price will result in a $732 million IPO and values the company at $4.1 billion.

The new report, from the International Data Corporation, says there were 26.4 million wearables shipped last year; if its estimate holds true for 2015, that will be a growth of 173.3 percent, according to an announcement.

"The demand for basic wearables, those that do not run third-party apps, has been absolutely astounding," Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for worldwide mobile device trackers, said in the announcement. "Vendors like Fitbit and Xiaomi have helped propel the market with their sub-$100 bands, and IDC expects this momentum will continue throughout 2015."

Apple is another company that is making waves this year in the wearables market, the study notes. Its Watch started shipping this past spring, and already healthcare organizations are jumping on the new tool to improve care.

For example, a pilot program at the MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper in New Jersey uses the Watch and a special app to help breast cancer patients track behavioral information for ensuring treatment programs remain on target.

Still, this segment of the industry has also seen some troubles.

Fitbit is facing a legal battle from competitor Jawbone regarding alleged employee poaching and data theft, FierceMobileHealthcare previously reported. Jawbone claims Fitbit is "systematically plundering" proprietary data by hiring Fitbit staffers who allegedly stole confidential information prior to leaving their respective Jawbone jobs.

In addition, despite the fanfare around the release of Apple Watch, many remain wary of the high price tag. An April survey said participants in wellness programs show interest in owning the device, but only at the right price.

To learn more:
- read the announcement