Wearable market grows by almost 700% year over year in first half of 2014

Wearable market grows by almost 700% year over year in first half of 2014
Canalys, an analysis and consulting firm focusing on the mobile market, has released figures for the first half of 2014 showing a 684% increase in wearable shipments compared to the same time frame last year. The worldwide growth is attributed to Fitbit and Jawbone, who were global leaders in shipments of what Canalys calls “basic bands.” In their “smart bands” category, the firm sees Samsung leading on the back of its newly released Gear 2, Gear 2 Note and Gear Fit. Second place went to Pebble, which continues its market and ecosystem growth, while Sony takes third place.

Starting in the third quarter, Canalys will be tracking Android Wear, as the LG G Watch and the Samsung Gear Live have officially launched the platform for consumers. The real question is whether Apple will join the fray this year, as recent reports suggest its long-rumored smartwatch has hit production snags. If Apple does release a smartwatch in significant quantities, it is very likely that the annual growth of the market will be much larger than Canalys' prediction in 2013 and its current estimates. Previously, Canalys expected a 900% growth in wearables for 2014, but the current numbers suggest a much larger growth. Similarly, the analysts predict a high estimate of just under 2 million smart bands sold for the year. This would include any Android and Apple devices that may be introduced between now and the holidays. However, even with reduced production, well-placed analysts predict at least 30 million units sold this holiday season, if Apple does release a smartwatch before then.

The wearable category is relatively new in the mobile technology realm, so growth numbers like this are not entirely unexpected. As the market expands with a diversity of products, consumers have a higher likelihood of finding a product that fits their personal needs. This drives market growth as more and more consumers buy the products. However, the technology is still in its early days, as Daniel Matte, a Canalys analyst, points out. In his view, there needs to be dramatic improvements to all components and applications associated with these products to satisfy consumer expectations. Currently, people are weary of buying devices that depend on their smartphones too much, have poor battery-life or can't keep up with an active lifestyle that may or may not involve frequent splashes of water or mud.

Given all the talk about Android Wear and the potential Apple smartwatch, it would be interesting to see what comes out this holiday season. In any case, the market will only grow from here and the products will only improve. Soon, you will finally be able to count all your steps from the couch to the fridge and back without worrying your smart band will get tired before you do. Exciting, isn't it?

sources: Canalys, CBSNews

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