Smartwatch growth forecast as businesses harness wearable tech

Sales of smartwatches like the Apple Watch are predicted to grow

A quarter of all wearable fitness devices will be purchased by businesses by 2020 as a way of identifying employees and getting customers engaged with brands, Gartner predicts.

The analyst house said that 25 percent of wearable fitness devices will be sold through non-retail channels between 2018 and 2020, as companies such as gyms and insurance providers offer the devices to customers at subsidised prices or for free.

Wearable devices such as wristbands will be used by companies to offer rewards or incentives to customers through ‘gamification’ linked to the data picked up by the device.

Gartner predicts that wearable technology will also be integrated into bracelets or badges for employee identification and access control.

Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner, said that major technology companies will help drive the development of wearable devices.

“Funding initiatives from Qualcomm, Apple (HealthKit), Google (Google Fit), Samsung (SAMI), Microsoft, Nike and Intel, among others, will build on early innovation in wearable fitness and health monitoring and create the infrastructure for merging data relevant to health and fitness,” she said.

Gartner’s Wearable Electronic Devices for Fitness, Worldwide, 2014 report also forecasts a minor decline in wearable fitness devices in 2015, as sales drop from 70 million units in 2014 to 68.1 million in 2015.

The predicted dip will be caused by an overlap in sales with smartwatches that also offer fitness monitoring features.

“The smartwatches differ from smart wristbands in that smartwatches need to display the time and have a user interface oriented around communication,” explained McIntyre.

“However, some smart wristbands have the ability to display and send text messages. The overlap in functionality between smart wristbands and smartwatches is expected to continue.”

However, Gartner predicts that the versatile design of such wearable fitness bands will see sales pick up again in the following year with the release of models featuring lower-cost displays.

Gartner’s overall prediction for the wearable technology market is positive. Sales will reach 91.3 million units in 2016, a rise of over 20 million units from 2014.

The analyst firm also predicts that 26 million smart garments will ship in 2016.

The much anticipated Apple Watch is due in 2015, and is likely to be one of the smartwatches that steals sales from fitness bands.

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18 November 2014 | 1:06 pm – Source: v3.co.uk

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