LIVE FROM MOBILE ASIA EXPO 2014: Kip Fyfe, president and CEO of wearables company 4iiii Innovation, suggested that the wearables industry could look toward the freemium model used by software developers to increase the stickiness of products, against a backdrop of criticism that such products offer little in the way of long-term value.
“I really think that a lot of devices we’ve got in the wearables sector are in the ‘novelty factor’ category – they are below what I would class as a minimum viable product,” he said in a keynote presentation on Thursday.
Fyfe said that “at the risk of trying something crazy”, vendors could look to the freemium model, which sees users charged extra to access additional services beyond the basic proposition, for example after an introductory trial period.
For example, in the fitness market, customers could be charged an additional fee to add data recording, sleep monitoring or notifications on top of basic heart rate monitoring.
“You still have to pay for the device, because devices really do cost money to make, and you have to make some money on that. And then you use a modified freemium model [for features],” the executive said.
While some vendors have made efforts to drive long-term engagement, for example via the use of loyalty and rewards programmes, Fyfe argued that these alone are not enough to solve the engagement problem.
“As much as Fitbit and all the other activity monitors provide you with points, I’m not sure that’s enough to provide long-term stickiness. We need more stickiness to make these wearables work properly – and I’m in the wearables business, and I agree we have a problem.”