Wearable Tech World Feature Article
November 07, 2013

Wearable Tech Has Promise But Must Find a Champion and Price Decrease

Before you get all excited about wearable tech such as Google Glass and Sony’s SmartWatch 2, don’t forget that tablets existed in the shadows before the iPad. We didn’t all own iPhones until smartphones had been on the market for years, and the iPod had a bumpy beginning.

Wearable tech might be the future, but for now it is largely confined to hobbyists, early adopters and the affluent.

The market for wearable devices such as smart watches is expected to be a $19 billion industry by 2018, according to Juniper Research. By 2017, Berg Insight predicts that annual shipments of wearable gadgets will reach 64 million, but don’t expect Christmas 2013 to be the breakout year.

“Our research suggests that the current price points are a barrier, restricting wearable tech to an older, more affluent audience,” said Johanna Martin of research firm, GfK. “While consumer awareness and interest is definitely there, we are still waiting for the launch of that ‘must-have’ wearable tech device for Christmas 2013.”

Price is a big issue at the moment for wearable tech according to GfK. The company surveyed roughly 1,600 British and American people in September to discover their attitudes about wearable tech.

The idea of a "connected smart watch" was appealing to roughly 60 percent of the 16-24 year-olds were surveyed, and 40 percent liked the thought of Google Glass. Few currently had a wearable device, and estimates on the price of such devices tempered consumer enthusiasm.

Only about 6 percent of the general population currently has a device that might be considered “wearable tech,” and this includes popular fitness devices such as Fitbit and Nike's FuelBand.

And while overall 24 percent of those surveyed said they would buy a connected smart watch, that number dropped to 12 percent when GfK indicated that they would have to pay between £150 and £200 (US $240 to $320).

A similar reduction in enthusiasm occurred with connected smart glasses. The interest in buying a pair more than halved, going from 16 percent to 7 percent, when those surveyed were told the price point would be between £400 and £600 (US $641 to $961).

So while in the future wearable tech might be as essential as a smartphone is today, it is important to note that “in the future” is currently attached to the technology. There has yet to be a breakout wearable tech device that has caught fire, and consumers are not yet willing to pay what it will cost to own such a device today.

Then again, Apple hasn’t yet released its anticipated smart watch, and Google Glass is still in beta testing. If there’s one thing the world has learned, it is the power Apple can exert on technology adoption.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker

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