Wearables are one of the most exciting new entrants to the consumer electronics market — and also the devices generating a good dose of scepticism.
There are an assortment of new gadgets labelled as wearables, including bracelets, smartwatches, and eyewear. Because these devices are designed to be worn close to the body, they’re ideal for monitoring how active we are, our sleep quality, how many steps we take during the day. But consumer awareness remains low, and it’s still very unclear if these devices will be made available at prices that mainstream consumers find acceptable.
In a series of new reports from BI Intelligence, we cut through the muddle of opinions on the wearable computing market — including Google Glass and the smartwatch market — and analyse various growth and price forecasts to arrive at a projection of future market size. We also outline the various barriers to entry for each, and look at how wearables could bring along new platform wars.
Here’s a sample of some of the key takeaways from the report:
- Market potential:We believe that smartwatches won’t be a runaway consumer hit, but that fitness bands, as well as pocketable activity-tracking devices like the Shine, will find a broad consumer market as well as deep niche markets in the medical industry and the enterprise. We see global annual wearable device unit shipments crossing the 100 million milestone in 2014, and reaching 300 million units five years from now.
- Barriers to adoption: Style is a major challenge for wearable computing devices. Smartwatches will have difficulty matching the design sensibility of luxury watches, which have become a fashion object first and foremost. Eyewear is even more visible and faces an even bigger design challenge. Battery life is also limited on wearables, and if battery life runs out, the devices can’t continue tracking your fitness progress or daily habits. Plus it’s yet another device consumers are forced to recharge. Bugs and privacy are other majors barriers wearables must overcome.
- Watch out for platform wars: Each new consumer device creates a new battleground for platform wars between Android and iOS. It’s likely that the two tech giants will come to compete over this turf as they have done over smartphones and tablets. These platform wars are extremely important to the development of the market, as interest in devices depends on a rich ecosystem of apps, which must be designed differently for each platform. The flexibility of Google’s Android OS gives it a presumptive advantage in this market.
In full, the special reports:
- Analyses various growth forecasts for the wearable computing market
- Explores the products and prospects of each component market – including bracelets, smartwatches, and eyewear
- Examines the various barriers to entry for each
- Looks at how wearables could bring along new platform wars