While it is true that wearables have created such a buzz these days with new electronic wristbands, health monitors and smartwatches emerging in the market every so often, and with giant tech companies such as Google, Samsung and Apple, leading the battle for the best wearable electronic device in town, there is no question. Yes, wearable technology is indeed the most exciting trend in the technology market today!
Statista.com forecasts that wearable devices will reach a market value of $12.6 billion in 2018, and is expected to include Google Glass products and Apple’s most anticipated addition to its line of cutting edge products, the iWatch. Beecham Research, IDTechEx, IHS and other research firms seem to agree with this forecast. Beecham Reseach expects the market’s worth to reach $3 billion by 2018, however, believes that the market has the potential to grow even bigger with a multidisciplinary approach and greater collaboration. Meanwhile, IHS expected sales of health, sports and fitness wearables to reach $2.8 billion in 2019, and the total base of these wearable devices will swell up to 120 million.
Nonetheless, analysts say that wearable technology, as popular as it is right now, failed to achieve its full potential. And unless developers and vendors learn to address its major challenges, it may never be able to establish itself as something more than just a piece of technology that can fade with its novelties. According to Beecham Research’s principal analyst, Saverio Romeo:
“Too many technology-led companies see wearable devices as simply the next wave of smartphones or accessories and pay lip service to aesthetics and style. Current market forecasts are based on a smartphone-centric view of wearable technology. But while these devices may have some smartphone functionality, they will be much more than smartphones.”
Beecham’s fashion technology analyst, Claire Duke-Woolley added that:
“There is a real difference between making technology wearable, versus making technology products that are desirable and genuinely engage with consumers through good design practice. It’s time for the fashion industry to embrace technology and for tech companies to realize that they can’t do it on their own and need the knowledge and influence of major fashion brands.”
Integration of fashion and technology indeed needs to avoid compromising aesthetics an functionality. Although, the fashion industry is now slowly adopting new concepts for clothes that will not just look good on them, but also allows them to communicate and do more. Take for instance, the emergence of smart fabric technology market where smart textile become recognized. Products such as traceable clothing and solar powered cycling jackets that let users charge mobile phones with it. However, cutting edge wearable devices may also need to be fashionable to appeal to a wider audience. The fashion industry dictates how people should look. Undeniably, it also has power over consumers’ spending habits and can greatly influence what appeals to the consumers.
Jack Kent of IHS, expressed similar thoughts about addressing challenges in the wearable technology market, when he said that “Wearable apps provide new opportunities, but business models must evolve”. Kent further noted that health and fitness as well as notification services are apparently pulling the most interest from consumers. However, many apps in the market remain too focused on traditional and single user-pay models. There is a need to find other means to sustain revenues from users, which can be done through subscription and service-based models, according to Kent in his report, The New Economics of Mobile Media: Strategies for Mobile and Wearable Apps.