Wearables must align to consumer needs for longtime adoption

New research from Parks Associates reveals 5 percent of U.S. broadband households are home to a smartwatch providing health and fitness tracking features, and 8 percent of households are using a digital fitness activity tracker such as a pedometer. But whether those households will grab more devices or upgrade down the road--and whether more households overall will jump on mHealth device bandwagon--is dependent on greater consumer education about the benefits of such tools, according to the Dallas-based firm.

"Though increased adoption of smartphones is fueling the mobile revolution that includes wearable devices, consumers' all-encompassing desire to use smartphones in all aspects of their lives is creating a dilemma for wearable OEMs," Tejas Mehta, a research analyst covering the mobile and wearable markets, says in an announcement regarding the latest Parks data on mHealth device adoption trends.

"Companies need to rally consumer interest in smart watches by educating them on the unique experiences and benefits of these and other wearables," Mehta says. "Otherwise, the majority of consumers may not see the reason to purchase another device that has similar, if not the same, capabilities as their smartphone."

The firm's newest report also reveals that 7 percent of broadband households use a GPS watch and 5 percent are using a sports watch featuring a built-in heart-rate monitor. What's more, it predicts that roughly 32 million U.S. consumers will track personal health and fitness via mobile and online by next year; the sale of connected devices and services in the U.S. is estimated to exceed $8 billion by 2018.

The figures align with other industry research projecting robust wearable shipment activity. A new Tractica report reveals smartwatches and fitness trackers will be at the forefront as the global wearable device market grows from 17 million shipments in 2013 to 187.2 million by 2020, representing a 34 percent market growth.

Parks Associates believes the expected sales growth will be fueled by an increasing number of mHealth wearables and new tracking and monitoring devices.

"LG just launched its Urbane-branded smart watch, and HTC will likely announce its entrance into the wearables market," Mehta said. "The pressure on the industry now is to create unique value propositions for these devices that align with current consumer interests."

For more information:
- read the announcement

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