The battle for the occupation of people’s wrists is beginning to intensify. At the moment, fitness trackers have their flag flying from the castle, but smartwatches’ tanks are on the lawn, with Apple having recently released its own offering. But will the Apple Watch be enough to put a rocket up the market for smartwatches?
There is a case to be made for both types of device, although many pundits argue that the smartwatch is yet to prove why it is a useful purchase. Only 50% of the US population wear any kind of watch, and with its high price point, they need to really offer something on top of the what fitness trackers offer.
While its high price point may appear to be an issue, NPD researchers found that 48% of smartwatch owners made less than $45,000 a year, suggesting that people on lower incomes do see value. At the moment, awareness of fitness bands is 74%, with 11% actually owning one. Smartwatches on the other hand, have a ratio of 81% awareness to 3% ownership. This is set to change though. Out of 8.5 million U.S. broadband households, 52% plan to purchase a smartwatch to track their fitness activities, while 30% own a connected health device. Just 5% say they currently use a smartwatch with these functions.
There is currently a great deal of difference in take-up between the genders. Fitness trackers have proved more popular with women, with the NPD finding that 54% of users were female and 46% male. Smartwatches, on the other hand, were 71% to 29%, with men forming the majority. Companies are likely to look to change this in the future and attempt to increase the popularity amongst women. Wearable tech is still very much in its infancy, and we are set to see innovations that will see it transformed into something unrecognizable from its various current incantations. With the money behind smartwatches from firms such as Apple, it seems destined to eventually outstrip fitness bands in terms of sales.
Indeed, Gartner expects worldwide shipments of smart garments to hit 26 million in 2016. How much smartwatches will make up of that figure depends on whether people believe it offers them anything new, and if it can change enough to suit what people are looking for.