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Smartwatches vs activity trackers - Wearable fitness tech gets serious

Simon Jary | Feb. 17, 2014
Consumerisation of health drives fitness trackers faster than gimmicky smartwatches.

"Heart rate and activity monitors will outpace shipments of smart watches and glasses for some years to come and they will also provide the essential foundation for the development of the broader wearable market," said Jonathan Collins, principal analyst at ABI Research.

Sports, fitness and wellness devices will increasingly be augmented by connectivity to the emerging number of smartwatches and glasses devices that become available over the next five years.

Likewise, general use wearable devices will increasingly support aspects of health monitoring.

"The interplay between health monitoring and wearable devices will be crucial in the development of both these markets," adds Collins.

"Samsung launched the Galaxy Gear with a major marketing push that gained significant consumer interest. Shipments of the device took Samsung to the top of the smart band category, though disappointing sell-through will necessitate more promotional activity in coming months," said Chris Jones, VP and Principal Analyst at Canalys.

"Basic band vendors have greater wearable expertise and have shipped greater numbers to date, but smart bands are already growing faster. Increasingly, smart bands will adopt basic band features as the two categories converge," added Jones.

Though currently a relatively small market serving fitness enthusiasts, wearable bands represent a massive opportunity in the medical and wellness segment. 2014 will be the year that wearables become a key consumer technology, as the smart band segment is estimated to reach 8 million annual shipments. Canalys estimates that this number will grow to over 23 million units by 2015, and over 45 million by 2017.


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