When Google, Apple and Samsung entered the wearable devices market, everyone held their breath, waiting to see how the next big technological promise will unfold. In reality, this market didn’t quite deliver upon previous expectations of revenues, consumer adoption and even technological advances.
The billion dollar question is – why?
The simple answer is time and perception.
The market is still in its early stages and needs more time to evolve. It’s as simple as that. Time (and hard work) will bring this market into what it will be, and once this
market takes off, we will see its tremendous impact on other markets as well.
Perception. Perception is a tricky one. It’s very different from the facts. In fact, in many
cases has nothing to do with reality, but has a greater impact on us. We can all think of a
company, a product or even a person, who enjoys a positive and outstanding reputation which we don’t really understand.
Unfortunately, from a perception point of view, the wearable market has a long way to go, in order to make consumers understand how a wearable might benefit them.
A short review of the wearable market today:
Wearable technology refers to a wide range of devices and apparel such as glasses, watches, wristbands, earables, rings and more.
According to a recent market analysis, the wearable electronics business will grow from $20 Billion in 2015 to almost $70 Billion in 2025, and the dominant sector will remain the healthcare sector which merges medical, fitness and wellness1.
According to another market analysis which refers to the amount of units shipped, we will see a growth rate of 35% over the next five years, reaching 148 million units shipped annually in 2019, up from 33 million units shipped this year.2 Most of these devices will be smartwatches.
Revolutions take time.
As we’ve mentioned above, time will unfold the true potential of this market, as we’ve seen in the past.
In the early 2000’s there were many predictions about cellular phones. It took half a decade (2007) for the smartphones to come into our lives and completely revolutionize it. Today, we can’t imagine our lives without a smartphone as it has affected every aspect of our daily routine, the way we communicate with each other, the way we consume content and much more. The smartphone revolution changed the business landscape, created new business opportunities, and also crushed companies (and not only candy).
This revolution didn’t happen in one day. There was an adjustment period during which the technology had to evolve, change, mature and become a stable product with a true consumer value. The wearable market needs our patience as well.
Currently smartwatches weight too much, the battery life-time is short (really short), and some of them tend to heat up, have inaccurate or unreliable sensors and additional childhood sicknesses.
We have already begun to see important upgrades and improvements. For instance, we can see more smartwatches that already support SIM card. This change makes the smartwatch even smarter and is a step towards making the smartwatch a stand-alone product which isn’t entirely dependent on smartphones. This means that going forward and as the technology advances, the smartwatch will have value on its own, which will lead the change.
This wonderful functionality is an addition to other evolving functions, such as communication of the smartwatch with a Smart TV, keyboard projection on surfaces, external keyboards connectivity for easier data entry, water proof models and more.
Consolidating the Eco-System:
Another concern which is expected to evolve is the device fragmentation and its impact on the eco-system.
Many of the smartbands manufacturers develop proprietary or single-purpose devices.
It’s their way of keeping ahead of the curve and differentiating themselves from competition. In the early stages in a growing market, this is a good thing. It keeps everyone on their toes, ignites creative thinking, accelerates innovation and moves the market forward. However, in the long term, having too many players with proprietary or single-purpose devices makes it difficult to build an eco-system.
From the consumers’ point of view, it’s confusing. Why have three different products that do three different things, instead of one that does everything? Think about this way- why take a camera, flashlight and map when you can just take your smartphone? In the future, we are expected to see many proprietary wristbands manufacturers fading away, being replaced by the wearables that use a standard OS.
From the developers stand point, it’s time-consuming, costly and ineffective to develop and port applications to many different devices, with different technologies and problems. We expect that as with smartphones, which transformed from a fragmented JavaME world to dual Android-iOS one, the smartwatches arena will evolve as well, in the same direction. By the way, there might be two more open OS for smartwatches as Samsung’s Tizenand and probably another one developed by a large Chinese manufacturer, but that’s it. Developers are a key-component in the eco-system and making their lives difficult can’t benefit the industry.
Echoing the Change:
The most exhilarating thing I am looking forward to seeing is which markets will be effected from this growing market, and how exactly will they be effected.
We’ve already begun to see the impact on health and consumers’ well-being, with numerous fitness connected apps and more. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg, as this “small” market will echo on other health related markets such as patients remote-monitoring, insurance companies, elderly care, parental control and more.
Furthermore, we’ve seem vivid discussions regarding data-analysis and how this new galaxy of wearables, will effect and change what we know about ourselves – physically and mentally, and will present huge opportunities, provoke more discussion regarding privacy, and bring the next big thing to our lives.
Stay tuned. It’s gonna be a great ride.