Future for Wearables Just Keeps Getting Brighter
If you thought the wearable technology market might be cooling from its torrid pace in 2014, think again. While the wearables market may not quite match the stellar 140-percent growth in global shipments it managed last year, 2015 is still destined to be a banner year, according the new market analyst figures.
The UK-based consultancy Futuresource last week said the worldwide wearables market had swollen to $8.9 billion in 2014. The bulk of the 56 million smartwatches, wireless watches, GPS watches and activity trackers were sold in the final quarter of 2014. That momentum is expected to continue driving wearables sales upward to the tune of 50 percent growth this year.
Among the key findings by Futuresource:
- Nine percent of consumers say they expect to buy a smartwatch in 2015
- Fitness, health and mobile communications applications remain the segment’s top drivers, but other apps like mobile payments are expected to grow over the next few years.
- While volumes remain small, head-mounted displays and virtual reality are gaining momentum in industrial and entertainment verticals.
Lest you think the wearables bonanza is just a consumer fad, Lopez Research earlier this year found that 38 percent of enterprise IT decision makers were interested in wearables. Most said they felt their organizations would deploy business-grade wearables in 12 to 18 months.
Analyst firm Forrester puts the enterprise numbers even higher. “While consumers’ interest in wearables has grown strong, businesses’ demand for wearables is even greater,” Forrester analyst JP Gownder wrote in a research brief.
“Today, 68 percent of global technology and business decision-makers say that wearables are a priority for their firm, with 51 percent calling it a moderate, high, or critical priority,” said Gownder. “This is comparable with the mobile landscape in 2010, when 43 percent of enterprises identified employees using mobile devices as a critical or high priority.”
Heady times indeed for the wearable computing industry, but the good news comes with a word of caution. In order to keep the positive adoption trajectory going, device and applications developers will need to broaden the appeal of wearable technology and deliver more robust functionality and targeted apps.
“The market for wearable technology is growing but still finding its feet with applications that extend beyond fitness and health applications,” said Simon Bryant, associate director at Futuresource. “It is still very much in its infancy.”
“The future of this market depends on killer applications, practical use cases, and replacement models, which are as yet an unknown quantity,” Bryant added.