The worldwide smartwatch market is poised for lift off and could gobble up 40 per cent of the consumer wristwatch market by 2016.
That according to Gartner anlaysts, who have also predicted Android-based smartwatches could retail at an average price of $30 by 2015 as OEMs capture the consumer mass market in China and internationally.
Gartner analysts say that nine out of the top 10 smartphone vendors have entered the wearables market to date or are about to ship a first product, while a year ago only two vendors were in that space.
Gartner research director, Angela McIntyre, said Apple had finally unveiled its Apple Watch, which she expected to trigger more consumer interest once it starts shipping in 2015.
"Apple introduced three smartwatch models that will sell at a wide price range, with the lowest starting at $349," she said.
"As with the iPhone, Apple's high-price strategy for the Watch will limit its market share; yet, with its attention to design and the user interface, we believe this product will attract many users."
Gartner analyst, Annette Zimmerman, said the Sony Smartwatch products and the Samsung Gear were early products that received much attention in the press but less enthusiasm from consumers due to their unclear value proposition and flawed design.
"In 2014 we are seeing a few more positive developments in terms of design and user experience (UX) and we therefore expect consumers to show more interest in these products in the second half of the year."
She said that the latest smartwatches showed much improvement in design compared with earlier smartwatches as well as providing an idea of the features that Android Wear brings to the user, including voice search, turn-by-turn navigation, contextual reminders and taking notes via voice input — basically a Google Now experience on a smaller screen.
A recent consumer study conducted by Gartner at the beginning of the third quarter of 2014 gave some indication of the current installed base of fitness wearables and dedicated sports watches.
The results showed that fitness wristbands and "other fitness trackers" combined are already represented in more US households than sports watches.
There is still a lot of room for growth and the trend around the "quantified self" will drive adoption of these devices over the next few years.
However, despite the growing interest from the market, there are several hurdles that still need to be overcome and that vendors need to consider in their products.
In recent tests, different models of smartwatches and fitness wristbands reduced the battery life of the connected smartphone. Depending on the product and the phone this was in the range of two to eight hours of reduced usage time. Having the smartphone run for only half a day until it needs a new charge is not ideal and this is likely to put off most users who use smartphones without an exchangeable battery.
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