New research by Gartner suggests that half of the consumers wanting to buy a smart wristband next year will opt for a smartwatch instead.
Explaining the difference between the two, research director Angela McIntyre said that although there tends to be quite a bit of overlap, “smartwatches need to display the time and have a user interface oriented around communication”. However both types of device share the ability to track users’ health.
This overlap may be the reason that the popularity of wearable devices is forecast to see a slump next year: 68.1 million units in 2015, down from 70 million units in 2014. However, the study notes that the market is likely to rebound in 2016 “because of versatile designs and models with lower-cost displays”. However, McIntyre believes the overlap will continue.
“Smartwatches having retail prices of $149 or more will typically have the capability to track activity and have accelerometers and gyroscopes similar to their smart wristband cousins,” she said.
“Funding initiatives from Qualcomm, Apple (HealthKit), Google (Google Fit), Samsung (S.A.M.I.), Microsoft, Nike and Intel, among others, will build on early innovation in wearable fitness and health monitoring and create the infrastructure for merging data relevant to health and fitness,” she added.
2015 is also when the Apple Watch is meant to launch, and this is expected to contribute to the popularity of smartwatches. CEO Tim Cook said the Apple Watch will be “the next chapter in Apple’s story”, and will “redefine what people expect from its category”. It might also give a significant boost to sales.
Earlier this week, BURG launched a “fashionable” smartwatch for $199 that functions as a standalone phone but can also be paired with iPhones and Android phones through Bluetooth technology.
Gartner predicts that between 2018 and 2020, 25 per cent of smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will be offered by non-retail organisations like gyms and insurance providers, and they will serve as a growing distribution channel for device manufacturers.
The study also says companies will have rewards or gamification linked to the use of wearables as a way of keeping customers engaged with their brands.