Wristbands focused on fitness are taking a healthy lead in the wearables market, despite the on-going hype surrounding smartwatches. In all, over the first quarter of 2014, 2.8 million wrist-worn devices shipped globally, but only 510,000 of those shipments were of smartwatches. And according to ABI Research, this small number is actually lower than for the final quarter of 2013 when the holiday season helped to generate greater demand. Also Read - Garmin Venu SQ series of smartwatches launched in India: Price, availability, featuresAlso Read - Xiaomi Mi Watch Color Sports Edition with GPS and SpO2 launched in China
We shouldn t dismiss smartwatches, which are an evolving and, if you believe in reincarnation, a nascent category, says senior practice director Nick Spencer. Smartwatches will develop rapidly in 2014 and 2015, with hybrid activity tracker/smartwatches soon to hit the market, more specialized components being developed and most importantly the use case improving through a growing applications ecosystem. As the value proposition of smartwatches increases, however, the price will still need to decrease to balance with end-user expectations. Also Read - TicWatch Pro 3 smartwatch launched in India: Price, and specifications
No doubt the launch of the Moto 360 and LG G Watch, the first smartwatches to be powered by Google s Android Wear operating system, will help to boost the market in the coming months both are scheduled for summer launches as will the appearance of an Apple-branded smartwatch. In fact, some analysts are so convinced that the iWatch is coming and that it will be a truly revolutionary product that they believe sales will match those of the iPad.
In a note to investors seen by AppleInsider, UBS analyst Steven Milunovich on Monday said that he was confident that Apple could sell 21 million iWatches over the course of 2015 and 36 million more in 2016. However, for the moment, it s Samsung that s taken an early lead in the smartwatch market. ABI doesn t break down its figures but puts the company firmly in first place, well ahead of Sony in second place and Pebble in third.
But ABI isn t the only firm that published smartwatch figures this week. On Wednesday, NPD Group released its own findings, based on point of sale records in the US, and found that between October 2013 and March 2014, Americans had bought just 430,000 smartwatches, 80 percent of which were Samsung devices and 16 percent Pebble, with Sony accounting for the final 4 percent.
As for fitness and activity trackers, some 2.35 million shipped over the first three months of 2014 and Fitbit is the most popular brand. Garmin finds itself in second place ahead of Nike and the top four is rounded out by Jawbone.
Activity Trackers are currently the most viable consumer electronics wearable device category, because they have a clear use case that cannot be matched by smartphones, in contrast to smartwatches, says Spencer. End users have been happy to ditch their watches and use smartphones to tell the time, so extending smartphone functions to the watch is a weak use case and retrograde step.
As such, ABI expects shipments of activity trackers to hit 10 million by the end of the year and for smartwatches to have made sufficient progress to hit 7 million units.