Google Glass set to pave the way, but only if the apps are on point.
Google Glass digital eyewear is thought to be great for porn, but potentially problematic in public places. Regardless of the pros and cons, IHS finds that 9.4 million pairs of smart glasses are set to ship between 2012 and 2016.
With Glass due to hit the public at the tail end of this year/beginning of the next, the market is expected to accelerate massively from 50,000 shipments last year to hit 6.6 million in 2016. That said, a pessimistic prediction suggests 2016 shipments could be as low as one million.
The success of the Google tech is said to depend mainly on what apps developers will create, with shipments thought to be low if services fail to impress.
Theo Ahadome, senior analyst at IHS, said: "The applications are far more critical than the hardware when it comes to the success of Google Glass. In fact, the hardware is much less relevant to the growth of Google Glass than for any other personal communications device in recent history. This is because the utility of Google Glass is not readily apparent, so everything will depend on the appeal of the apps.
"This is why the smart glass market makes sense for a software-oriented organisation like Google, despite the company’s limited previous success in developing hardware. Google is betting the house that developers will produce some compelling applications for Glass."