Smart wristband consumers to opt for smartwatches: Gartner

Fitness-focused wearable market to dip slightly, with 50% opting for full-functioned smartwatches

Tags: Gartner Inc. (www.gartner.com/technology/home.jsp)
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Smart wristband consumers to opt for smartwatches: Gartner Shipments for fitness-focused wearable devices will reach 68.1m units in 2015
By  Tom Paye Published  November 24, 2014

In 2015, half of consumers considering buying a smart wristband will instead choose a more full-functioned smartwatch, according to the latest insights from Gartner.

In a recent report, Gartner said that shipments for fitness-focused wearable devices will reach 68.1m units in 2015, down from 70m units in 2014. The research house said that the temporary dip in sales will be driven by an overlap in functionality between smart wristbands, other wearable fitness monitors and smartwatches.

However, Gartner said that the market for smart wristbands and other fitness monitors will rebound in 2016 because of versatile designs and models with lower-cost displays.

"Fitness wearables are used for tracking health, which goes hand-in-hand with fitness and wellness," said Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.

"Consumers will be able to integrate the data from most wearables into a single account where their data can be analysed using cognizant computing to provide useful insights to wearers. 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." 

The five main fitness wearable form factors are smart wristbands, sports watches, other fitness monitors, heart rate monitor chest straps and smart garments, Gartner said. Sports watches and chest straps are well established, compared with smart wristbands first popularised by the Jawbone Up, which launched in 2011.

However, Gartner said it believes that the smart garment product category has the greatest potential for growth going forward because the category is emerging from the testing phase and smart shirts are available to athletes and coaches of professional teams. Smart garment shipments are forecast to grow from 0.1m units in 2014 to 26m units in 2016.

For the present, however, Gartner maintained that smart wristbands and other fitness monitors are the most popular form factors among consumers.

"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," said McIntyre.

"The smartwatches differ from smart wristbands in that smartwatches need to display the time and have a user interface oriented around communication. However, some smart wristbands have the ability to display and send text messages. The overlap in functionality between smart wristbands and smartwatches is expected to continue." 

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