MADISON, Wis. — The consumer electronics industry is feeling a little spooked by a drop of 4.36% in year-over-year demand — from October 2014-October 2015, according to Argus Insights — for a wearable market recently regarded as the next big thing.
Black Friday is imminent. The holiday buying season is just around the corner. But given the non-existent explosion for the wearable market, a list of winners and losers on the market might be of little use. We already know the wearables and smartwatches that are bucking the ennui in consumers’ mindshare.
It’s more useful to explore how the wearable industry has missed the boat and where it went wrong with product designs, concepts and understanding of consumers’ wants.
Argus Insights, a market research firm whose business is analyzing consumer reviews to predict demand, has spotted a few clues.
Convergence vs. divergence
What do we know thus far?
John Feland, CEO, Argus Insights, told us, “Whereas the smartphone is the ultimate convergence product, we are learning that wearables are inherently divergent products.”
It turns out that super-duper smartwatches loaded with full-blown phone/email/camera/voice assistant capabilities together with all other bells and whistles are not necessarily winning the hearts-and-minds battle.
(Source: Argus Insights)
Leading up to Black Friday, Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, despite its prolonged presence on the market, did not even make the top ten list of smartwatches favored by smartwatch users, according to Feland. “That sort of surprised me,” he said.
He added, “Android Wear enabled devices have a strong showing but Samsung’s absence from the top ten shows Samsung is still searching for what consumers are looking for. Even the new S2, Samsung’s first round- faced wearable lost out to the older Moto 360 and LG G Urbane.”
In contrast, Pebble has consistently excelled – ranked in the fifth place after Apple Watches. Pebble has arrived by understanding that smartwatches are about “information snacking and notification,” explained Feland. They aren’t about cramming all the smartphone functions into a watch. The market is proving that “this isn’t about a Dick Tracy watch,” he added.
The Apple Watch 38mm, Sport 38mm, 42mm and Sport 42mm occupied the top four slots on the Argus list. This ranking proves two things. First, consumers prefer smaller watch faces. Second, Apple is allowing other sellers to heavily discount its watches. For example, buy an iPhone, you get $100 off on an Apple Watch. This is the sort of deal previously verboten at Apple. But this new marketing wrinkle is working, Feland observed.
The most telling trend in the fitness band category is the emergence of Lumo Lift Posture and Activity Tracker as the top wearable device approaching Black Friday, 2015.
Lumo, after all, isn’t a fitness band at all. It’s a broochlike device that clips to a shirt, blouse or strapless evening gown, using a magnetic clasp. According to the company, the Lumo Lift, worn below collarbone, tracks the user’s posture and activity. Using subtle vibrations as feedback, it vibrates to remind a user who starts to slouch to straighten up. The device includes patented biomechanical monitoring sensors that use angle displacement to determine when the user’s body deviates from a previously calibrated standard of good posture.
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