Lenovo, the world's largest PC vendor that also is looking to expand its reach in servers and mobile devices, is taking steps into the small but fast-growing wearable device market, where it will compete with a broad array of established vendors and startups.
On its Website, Lenovo is showing off a wrist device called the Smartband SW-B100, aimed at "young people who take care of their personal health and are interested in new tech trend products," according to the company. The device monitors such fitness information as steps and distance traveled, calories burned, heart rate and sleeping patterns.
It also comes as wearable device stalwart Fitbit launches three new activity and sleep trackers for the wrist, and newcomer Pivotal Living introduces Life Tracker 1, which monitors and records similar data but for only about $12 a year.
The wearable device market is expected to top 19 million units this year, and jump to 111.9 million units in 2018, IDC analysts said in April. Canalys analysts in September said the wearable band market will grow 129 percent a year, hitting 43.2 million units in 2015. Of those, 28.2 million will be smartbands, with the other 15 million being basic bands (which, unlike smartbands, cannot run third-party applications), the analysts said.
It's a market that is attracting a range of vendors, including such top-tier players like Apple, Samsung and Google. Chinese companies, like Xiaomi and its Mi Band, are helping drive prices down, according to Canalys analysts. In addition, as prices continue to fall, smart bands will see their popularity increase, they said.
"The basic band vendors, such as Fitbit and Jawbone, will enjoy the advantages of their lower pricing for the immediate future," Canalys Vice President and Principle Analyst Chris Jones said in a statement. "Eventually, however, stronger smart band competitors to the Apple Watch will likely emerge and push smart band pricing down, threatening the basic bands. The market will undergo disruption similar to that suffered by feature phones when smartphone prices fell."
After announcing in January their intent to buy IBM's x86 server business and Motorola Mobility from Google (the company also is rumored to be interested in buying BlackBerry), Lenovo executives said their goal was to ensure that the company was among the top vendors of all computing devices, from smartphones and tablets to PCs and servers. Lenovo now is looking to enter the wearable device market.
There was no indication on the Website about when Lenovo's Smartband SW-B100 will hit the market. On the Website, Lenovo indicated that the device will work with smartphones and tablets running Google's Android 4.3 and above operating system and Apple's iOS 7.1 and above.
Fitbit is introducing three new smart bands, each targeting users at different levels of exercise and fitness. The Fitbit Charge tracks a user's activity and fitness in real time, and includes a Caller ID feature on the device. It tracks the number of steps taken, distance traveled, and calories burned, and it also monitors sleep quality, according to the company. In addition, the device displays exercise statistics in its dashboard. The Charge also vibrates when a call is coming in and shows the caller's number, and offers up to seven days of battery life.