Apple Watch to Fuel Wearable Device Market, Gartner Says

By Jeffrey Burt  |  Posted 2014-09-19 Print this article Print
Apple Watch

However, there will be challenges, the analyst said. Recent tests have shown that smartwatches and fitness devices can be a drain on the battery life of the smartphone to which they're connected. Given the importance of battery life to mobile device users, having a smartwatch that forces them to charge their smartphones more often may make them wary of adopting such devices.

In addition, consumers are expected to add more connected devices that will need to be charged going forward, which will put a further burden on them. A smartwatch with a battery that lasts for months is more preferable, but a more efficient battery would mean a less light and sleek design, they said.

"We are currently seeing two opposing trends in the market with regards to form-factor evolution," Zimmerman said. "On the one hand, there are vendors offering smart wrist-wearables in a familiar watch-like form factor. On the other hand, in the past six to nine months, we have seen vendors launching products that resemble the early fitness wristbands, but come with displays that add significant functionality, including message and call alerts. These crossover products are generally marketed as fitness devices, but with the strong slant toward the communication aspect." 

Growing competition from Chinese ODMs also will be a challenge for device makers like Fitbit and Jawbone, the analysts said. Some ODMs already have come out with products, though most are sold only in China. However, international expansion by these vendors is coming, according to Gartner.

"International expansion will start to accelerate in 2015, and in this context, we expect several Chinese vendors to build on Android Wear in parallel to create more appeal," McIntyre said. "Certainly, they are faced with the same hurdles regarding design as all international vendors, but we also expect them to leverage one thing that has been to their constant advantage in the smartphone and tablet market: the cost advantage of the Chinese supply chain ecosystem."

With this supply chain advantage, Chinese vendors may be able to bring smartwatches based on Android Wear and which cost around $30 to market, which could further drive mass adoption of the devices, the analysts said.



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