Wearables: smartwatch, fitness bands
Wearables, such as smartwatches or fitness bands may soon go mainstream. Apple may single-handedly jumpstart the market with a successful Apple Watch launch. Another possibility; wireless carriers may give them away with smartphones ala tablets.
First Nike tried to grow the fitness band segment. The various bands work well enough but fitness bands remain a (profitable) niche product. Unless millions of sedentary Americns suddenly revive their lapsed New Years resolutions, they will remain niche products.
LG and Samsung have put out 8 different models of smartwatch totalling 700,000 sales last year. Kickstarter darling Pebble sold 1,000,000 of their 2 models. While respectable, this is not the mainstream success of smartphones, eReaders or tablets. Currently people who might not seriously consider a tablet have one because their wireless carrier sold them one on subsidy. I foresee LG bundling their basic LG G smartwatch with their flagship G4 or Flex 2 for example.
The wireless carriers start to push smartwatches sooner rather than later. The next generation of smartwatches may actually become smartphones. Smartwatches with LTE connectivity could supplant the traditional phone form factor in the future. The traditional watchmakers will gradually make their watches smarter to avoid losing too many sales. We are likely to end up with a bifurcated market for wearables; high end fashion first watches costing more than $300 and technology first but less attractive sub $300 smartwatches. The most important issue will continue to be battery life, if it doesnt improve the market will grow slowly, real improvements will make wearables a sensation.