Wynkoop tracks his exercise using a digital
fitness device he wears on his wrist and syncs
with his smartphone at his home in West Los
Angeles on July 23, 2014.
wearable tech already wearing thin?
the hype for upcoming products from Apple Inc., Google
Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co., a number of analysts
say Internet-connected personal devices such as
smartwatches and fitness bands ó so-called wearables
ó will be hard-pressed to reach the same sales heights
as smartphones and tablets.
because nearly every selling point for wearable tech ó
a smartphone alternative, a better system for fitness
tracking and a link to other Internet-connected devices
ó may not have broad appeal, some analysts say.
all youíre doing is saving me the trouble of getting
my phone out, thatís not going to be enough,"
said Jonathan Gaw, a wearables analyst at International
Data Corp. "You need to do more than that."
amid signs of a slowdown in smartphone sales and
pressure to come up with the next big thing, tech
companies are jumping on the wearable tech trend. Many
analysts expect Apple, Google and Samsung will roll out
wearable tech products in the next 12 months.
Parks Associates analyst Harry Wang predicts that at
best, smartwatch sales will top out at about 120 million
around 2018 ó a far cry from smartphones and tablets.
More than 1 billion smartphones and more than 195
million tablets were sold last year.
say the best hope for wearable tech is something that
many Americans loathe: exercise.
are primarily about health and fitness, tracking
activity and making use of it," Canalys researcher
Daniel Matte said. "Itís tough to say thatís
the entirety of it, but itís fair to say thatís the
majority of it."
fitness tracking may be a tough pill to swallow ó
almost half of Americans donít exercise at all, and a
recent Endeavor Partners study found that nearly a third
of fitness tracker users stop using their device after
effectively a death sentence for future smartwatch
makers, as the other selling point for wearable tech ó
a smartphone extension ó wonít persuade consumers to
shell out hundreds of dollars for another gadget,
companies already in the wearable-devices marketplace,
improving sales and retaining customers comes not from
better fitness-tracking technology, but from the ability
of a device to change behavior.
average user isnít fit. Theyíre overweight,"
Fitbit Chief Executive James Park said. "Thatís
really driven how we think of product development over
said Fitbit built apps and other game-like features into
the system because those features encourage users to not
only keep up healthy habits but also to continue using
Fitbit. The 7-year-old company has no plans to compete
with universal smartwatches, Park said, and believes it
can expand by narrowing its focus to
an advantage Park touts over the current generation of
smartwatches. Though Park expects the current wearables
market to expand over the next six to 12 months because
of marketing efforts by Apple and Google, he said Fitbit
will still have a place at the table because consumers
have a solid grasp on what the device is used for.
strongly believe thereís no one-size-fits-all for the
(wearables) market," he said.
Associatesí Wang said smartwatches will eventually
compete against luxury watch makers such as Rolex, not
other tech companies.
into the already established watch market would have
companies making fewer sales but higher profit margins,
he said. Wangís forecast for the sale of 120 million
devices assumes that wearables would act more as a
luxury watch, rather than a smartphone or tablet.
cited several factors that could boost the smartwatch
market, including technological advances that could make
the devices more attractive to consumers. An app
developer or innovative start-up, for instance, might
come up with a new feature or sexier selling point for
wearables that could brighten their prospects.
think wearables have tremendous potential, yes, but in
the same way I think (No. 1 NBA draft pick) Andrew
Wiggins has tremendous potential," analyst Gaw