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Wearable technology market needs rebranding

Wearable technology has been making the right buzz in marketing circles for a while. Reiterating the positive streak, findings from Juniper Research highlight that smart wearable device shipments, including smart-watches and smart-glasses, will approach 130 million units by 2018, 10 times higher than estimated this year. However, the report also notes that, as of now, wearable devices represent a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘must have’ for consumers, which is creating an entry barrier. A rebranding of this segment may help increase adoption and heighten activity accordingly.
No longer dominated by just fitness devices
Wearable technology has traditionally been dominated by fitness devices such a Nike’s FuelBand, Jawbone UP and the Armour 39 Fitness Belt which track data like the amount of calories a person burns or distance walked, or even sleeping patterns. The market size of wrist-worn smart devices is seeing an increase, almost 96 per cent market share is dominated by bracelet smart devices. According to experts, this change in adoption levels can be attributed to heightened consumer awareness of wearable technology and also, new product launches.
But new devices including smart-watches and smart-glasses are grappling to get a foothold in the sector. The smart-watch market has great potential with giants Samsung and Nokia releasing products and Apple rumoured to be working on a similar device. App-enabled smart-watch shipments will reach 36 million per annum by 2018, compared to just over 1 million this year, according to the study released by Juniper research. In addition, the highly-awaited wearable eyewear Google Glass, has prompted some to consider how they might use wearable technology to expand their productivity. Smartphone makers are poised to see an enormous opportunity in the wearable technology market.
Heightened activity
Juniper’s latest report, ‘Smart Wearable Devices: Fitness, Healthcare, Entertainment & Enterprise: 2013-2018’ contends that the market attractiveness of wearable technology has led to the emergence of a host of players and competition is expected to intensify.
However wearable devices represent a ‘nice to have’ and not a ‘must have’ for consumers. “Even though wearables are relatively new in terms of market maturity, it is clear that the market, for example the smart watch in particular, will be – as per smartphones – a somewhat crowded affair,” added Nitin Bhas, Senior Analyst and Author for the report, Juniper Research.
Tackling privacy issues
The report notes that there are a number of social and legal barriers to the deployment of wearable devices. Issues such as privacy commonly arise if the wearable device has a camera. In the case of Healthcare wearables, the most relevant issue is the storage of confidential and personal vital health information by these devices. However, as more wearable products are rolled out, Juniper expects that governments will in turn seek to develop regulatory frameworks to legislate their use, both from a privacy and data protection perspective.