Is the first wave of wearables wearing thin?

Written by on September 4, 2015 in Opinion with 0 Comments

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 14.07.09According to both consumer research and investment analysis, the appetite for wearables is slowing down. Investment, according to Forbes, at least in ‘activity trackers’ has basically stalled. The consumer research was extensive, carried out, as it was, among 328,000 people.

DisruptiveViews did its own extensive research – sample size one – and the wearable in question was an Apple Watch. The conclusion is that the Apple Watch is useful for women, less so for men. And its usefulness lies in the fact that it is an extension of an iPhone.

Women have handbags (men do too, but not in the same way). These bags are tardis-like items, far bigger on the inside than the outside and capable of holding the contents of entire bathrooms, kitchens and pharmacies. Rummaging through the contents in order to get to the phone before it stops ringing, or to see whether the alert you just heard is from someone interesting is, frankly, a pain. So, having a watch that you can glance at to see whether the call or text is from someone that is worthy of rummaging or someone who can wait, is indeed useful.

The ‘other’ research, conducted among the mere 328,000 came to the conclusion that wearables 1.0 simply do not do enough. They count your steps, possibly tell you whether you have climbed a flight of steps or not and that is about it.

The question is whether bands that you wear round your wrist and count your steps have a future, or not. The answer is probably not. They, like everything, must evolve.

The Apple Watch’s next iteration will be interesting. Will it connect to its parent by Wi-Fi or 4G? Will you be able to actually use it as a device in itself. We hope so, otherwise the number of people who we have observed wearing an Apple Watch in Edinburgh will remain at one.

Will bands worn round the wrist become more interesting? It is difficult to see how, unless there is some very clever input device in the offing.

But wearables and the appetite for them will not disappear. Perhaps we should look upon the current offerings as an experiment. There are already experiments that aim to weave computing know-how into our clothes. The trend towards more sophisticated monitoring from wrist bands and other wearables will continue, and will possibly become part of a bigger healthcare picture than a consumer one. If you wear a wristband that counts your steps, and possibly heart rate, you are already, by definition, health conscious. Those that do not, and do not feel so, would be better targets for such health monitoring gadgets. And to get to that market would mean a partnership with healthcare providers.

The current downturn in the wearables arena is probably a ‘pause for breath.’ One day, like many things emerging now, we will not even think, ‘Oh look, a wearable’ – wearables will part of us. At which point we may not be entirely human any more.

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About the Author

About the Author: Alex was Founder and CEO of the Global Billing Association (GBA), a trade body focused on the communications sector. He is a sought after speaker and chairman at leading industry conferences, and is widely published in communications magazines around the world. Until it closed, he was Contributing Editor, OSS/BSS for Connected Planet. He is publisher of DisruptiveViews and previously BillingViews. .


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