New findings from Juniper Research have revealed that global smart wearable device shipments will more than quadruple by 2017, reaching 116 million units, compared to an estimated 27 million this year. However, this still suggests that less than 5% of smartphones will be used with such wearables by this time.
Device Market Homogenises Around Software Platforms
The extensive new report – Smart Wearables: Fitness, Glasses, Watches, Multimedia, Clothing, Jewellery, Healthcare & Enterprise 2014-2019 – asserts that with technological barriers coming down, larger players in the market are moving beyond devices to produce operating systems and databanks to manage the information generated by wearables. Recent examples include Google’s Android Wear, Qualcomm’s 2net and Samsung’s Digital Health Initiative.
This will bring an explosion of devices into an already crowded market, as smaller companies focus on producing quality hardware without needing software expertise. As a result, the segment will be less open to truly unique innovations, with software platforms dictating capability. Consequently, independent wearables will remain rare, as manufacturers continue to build their software around a companion smartphone to encourage a dual revenue stream.
Juniper anticipates that increasingly capable smart watches will incorporate multiple sensors, negating the need for separate devices to measure health and fitness biometrics. The report argues that, this will cut both ways, as several fitness devices such as the Samsung Gear Fit and Razer Nabu offer notification services in addition to activity tracking, assimilating smart watch capabilities. Consequently, we believe that it will take until 2017 for more smart watches to be used than fitness wearables.