When smartwatches first debuted, most people saw them as the futuristic wearable we always wanted. Early adopters loved options like the Pebble, first generation of Android Wear, and more. However, it seems like those early adopters might have been the only ones who were interested.
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In the past, research firm eMarketer has had high estimates for how smartwatches would sell. In October 2015, the firm expected smartwatches to grow by over 60% during 2016, but the latest forecast falls well below that estimate, landing at a measly 24.7%. Smartwatch usage this year will reach approximately 39.5 million US adults, but that’s far fewer than the original 63.7 million estimate.
Why the lack of growth? There are a few clear reasons, but eMarketer cites the high cost and lack of a definitive use case as the biggest reasons why customers aren’t buying and as we’ve seen, that’s very true. One of the firm’s analysts, Cathy Boyle, had the following to say regarding one of the most popular wearables on the market today, the Apple Watch.
Before Apple launched its Watch, fitness trackers dominated the wearables space, and consumer surveys consistently found that tracking health and fitness was the main reason people were interested in wearables. They also reported high price-sensitivity. Without a clear use case for smart watches—which have more features than fitness trackers, but significant overlap with smartphone functionality—the more sophisticated, expensive devices have not caught on as quickly as expected.
That trend doesn’t just apply to the Apple Watch, though. It can also be seen in the Android Wear market. Even fans of the platform have abandoned it due to the high cost of some wearables and the lack of definitive use case. Our own Stephen Hall even describes the platform as “practically useless.” That’s becoming clear to OEMs as well, seeing that staples in the market such as Motorola are taking a break, things aren’t looking good.
At this point, most wearables on the market are low-cost fitness trackers. Originally the wearable market was mainly targeted to male users, but as fitness trackers take over the market, female users are becoming the majority. As we enter 2017, smartwatches are certainly looking at a bleak future…