Wearable Tech World Feature Article
January 19, 2016

Fitness Devices Continue to Be More Popular than Smartwatches

It’s no secret that, to date, fitness has been the most popular use scenario for wearable technology. With the notable exception of the insanely popular Apple Watch, which managed to make up half of global smartwatch shipments last year, wearable technology hasn’t managed to make as huge of an impact on any other market as it has on fitness. And, according to a new report from Juniper Research, fitness wearables will continue to dominate the wearables market for the next three to four years.

The new report, entitled “Future Health & Fitness Wearables: Business Models, Forecasts & Vendor Share 2016-2020,” states that fitness wearables will remain the “primary wearable device” over the forecast period. Smartwatches, meanwhile, are expected to be used less commonly for the next three years, after which time their popularity will presumably increase. By the end of 2019, fitness wearables are expected to be used by roughly 110 million people around the world, while smartwatches will have more than 130 million users.

A major factor in fitness devices’ popularity now and in the next few years is that they have a more obvious use than smartwatches currently. Fitness wearables are also cheaper than smartwatches, while their range of abilities is expanding into that of smartwatches. According to Juniper, more fitness wearables are beginning to offer a range of call handling and notification functions found in smartwatches.

Meanwhile, fitness wearables are becoming a part of the training regimes of many sports teams, further deepening their value as they become standard practice in that area. Still, smartwatches aren’t out of the running quite yet. Once they can offer more functionality independent of a smartphone for support, smartwatches will likely see more popularity.

“The use of wearables to track health shows promise, but such devices will not reach their full potential until they can become less dependent on mobile devices to relay their information, in addition to meeting healthcare data storage and relay requirements,” said research author James Moar.

Edited by Kyle Piscioniere

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