10 Factors That Will Determine Wearable Device Success

10 Factors That Will Determine Wearable Device Success
Wearable Devices Need to Be Smarter
They Must Have Real-World Practicality
Wearables Need the Backing of Big Companies
Wearables Must Have Strong Software Support
Wearables Must Integrate With Other Devices
Third-Party Developer Support Is Essential
Cultural Acceptance Is Important
Wearable Must Deliver Value
Wearables Need to Be Durable
Most of All, They Must Be Affordable
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10 Factors That Will Determine Wearable Device Success

By Don Reisinger

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Wearable Devices Need to Be Smarter

Right now, it's hard to find too many "smart" wearable devices. Sure, there are products that can monitor fitness levels and feature some smartphone-like functionality, but we're still waiting on products that can handle boatloads of apps, have the ability to keep users informed wherever they go and can replace the smartphones in our pockets, if we so desire. Smarter wearable devices—perhaps like Google Glass—will be extremely important to the future of the market.

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They Must Have Real-World Practicality

It's hard to say right now how many wearable devices are truly applicable to the average person's life. Products like the Nike FuelBand can help with fitness-tracking, but what will Google Glass do that so many other products can't already? Wearable device makers need not only to attract customers; they need to prove that the products they're offering are actually going to come in handy in their daily lives.

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Wearables Need the Backing of Big Companies

The companies succeeding right now in wearables are largely those that are well-known and have billions of dollars in cash to spend on that sector of the technology industry. While small companies, such as Pebble, have been able to attract some attention, it's the major companies, like Google, Samsung, Sony and Apple that are most likely to succeed over time.

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Wearables Must Have Strong Software Support

The big issue standing in the way of broad wearable device adoption is software integration. Samsung's Galaxy Gear 2 comes with Tizen, an open-source operating system that has yet to get off the ground. The company plans an Android model later this year. Other products come with built-in operating systems that fall short for one reason or another. Wearable devices need to have operating systems that are both well understood among consumers and work well. Without either element, wearables will be doomed.

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Wearables Must Integrate With Other Devices

Samsung is perhaps the biggest culprit in this example, but there are certainly others: Walled gardens have been established in the wearable space that should be broken down if the sector is to see rapid success in the coming years. Samsung's Galaxy Gear 2, for example, works with Samsung handsets. In order for wearables to be successful, they need to work with any and all products we already carry around. There is simply no other option.

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Third-Party Developer Support Is Essential

The number of third-party apps available on wearable products right now is somewhat slim. With that in mind, it's important that companies building wearable tech attract developers to their products. From location-based apps to even games, third-party programs are a necessary piece of the puzzle for any company trying to succeed in wearables.

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Cultural Acceptance Is Important

Wearable technology cannot succeed without acceptance within contemporary culture. People need to feel comfortable wearing their Galaxy Gear 2, iWatch or Google Glass around town. If consumers feel that it's not culturally "cool" to wear the products, wearables will fail. It's important not to discount the importance of culture in the success or failure of wearables.

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Wearable Must Deliver Value

There must be a means to an end with wearables. If it's a fitness-tracker people are buying, they should be able to create measurable goals and reach them. If consumers are going after eyeglasses that maximize productivity, they should do that. In many cases, wearables right now are a bit more form than function. And that needs to change.

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Wearables Need to Be Durable

If consumers are going to spend a significant amount of money on wearable devices, they better last long enough. In the smartphone space, planned obsolescence is what helps Apple and others boost revenue. In the wearable space, watches, eyewear and fitness trackers need to be able to last for years. Consumers don't want to buy a new wearable device every year just because Apple says so; they want to have products that last. Device makers, who have been unwilling to provide such products for fear of losing revenue, need to accept that.

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Most of All, They Must Be Affordable

Finally, and perhaps most importantly for many consumers, is affordability. Wearables need to be able to hit the price point in order to be successful. Recently, Google opened up sales on its Glass eyewear for a single day and quickly sold out, despite the $1,500 price tag. However, the people buying that eyewear were early adopters, not the regular consumer. And it seems like a hard sell for Google to get $1,500 out of those who ware already reluctant to spend hundreds on smartphones and tablets. Regardless of the device in question, one thing must remain constant: Wearables must be affordable.

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