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Fitness Wearables: The Big Game-Changer

6 Jan, 2015

By: Mary Helen Sprecher
Explosive Growth of Wrist-Worn Fitness Devices is Driving a New Market Segment

In terms of sports spending, fitness devices have been a game-changer.

A new study has found that fitness devices (those that interact with smartphones and computers, as well as those that do not), referred to as ‘fitness wearables,’ are projected to more than triple in use by 2018.

According to an article in Sports One Source, there are 19 million devices are in use this year; that number is expected to jump to over 70 million.

In addition, an ever-increasing number of companies are jumping onto the bandwagon with apps designed to interface with wearables; Under Armour is one of the latest, debuting its UA Record app at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Juniper Research, which provided the study, noted that it expects fitness to remain the dominant wearables segment until that time, driven by intuitive use cases and lower retail prices. However, the broader appeal of smart watches will mean that they will be used more frequently in later years.

The study noted,

The report, Smart Health & Fitness Wearables: Device Strategies, Trends & Forecasts 2014-2019, observed that the diversity of fitness wearables will bring about two classes of fitness device. Basic trackers, like the $13 Xiaomi MiBand, will sell on their value, while more complex devices, such as the Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band and Samsung Gear Fit, will offer additional features beyond fitness, such as notifications and music control.

More capable devices will compete with smart watches, especially those that offer similar notification functions, like the MetaWatch M1 and Martian Notifier. However, more aesthetically-minded consumers will still choose watches, as fitness-focused devices will prioritize function over form.

But it’s not all fitness wear. The report anticipates that sales of healthcare-focused wearable devices will increase, from wearable ECGs (electrocardiograms) to glucose monitors and insulin pumps. While they are currently used in areas where self-medication is the norm, capabilities will expand to allow monitoring by healthcare professionals in other areas. This will only happen once questions around regulation are answered, however.

Other Key Findings Include:

  • Fitbit will remain the leading player for fitness tracking, although their decision not to integrate with Apple Health may harm their market share in the short term.

  • With engagement a key pain point for fitness wearables, start-up GOQii is pioneering a new service-based business model, offering contact with fitness coaches alongside their device.

The whitepaper, Fit for the Future with Wearables, is available to download from Juniper Research's website together with further details of the full report and the attendant Smart Health & Fitness Wearables IFxl (Interactive Forecast Excel).

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