Smart watches...it’s about time.
Following on from my previous blog, we have been studying the smart wearables and 'appccessories' market closely for quite some time now. A day ago, Samsung announced that it will launch its Android-running Smart Watch, named Galaxy Gear, in Berlin on September 4, beating Apple to a market that the Cupertino company has been rumoured to be pursuing for at least 10 months. Smart watches have been around for some time (an example being Sony Smart Watch) compared to some of the most recently announced next-gen smart devices, the Smart Glasses for instance. From a technology perspective smartphone hardware peripherals are relatively simple, often combining a measurement or monitoring purpose with local connectivity, in order to upload data or content to the smartphone or, at times, simply as an information dashboard, as in the case of current smart watch generation. Our recent research report on smart watches defines two sub categories to the device: Multi-function segment capable of performing an array of additional functionalities such as tracking fitness and sports activities, payments or ticketing and the more limited Dashboard/Console segment. We believe that the entrance of Apple and Samsung into this sector will help to validate the category and act as a catalyst for other competitors to enter the space and that it will also benefit existing smart watch players. Consequently, we have forecasted an uptake in smart watch adoption from 2014: the report forecasts app-enabled smart watch shipments to reach 36 million per annum by 2018, compared to just over 1 million this year. However, both smart watch categories – Dashboard/Console and Multi-function – will only appeal to a niche demographic when compared to tablet and smartphone for example and hence the market potential will be comparatively limited.