What's it going to take for the wearable market to really heat up? If you're into exercise or consider tech a hobby, you might already own a wearable like the Nike+ FuelBand, FitBit Flex, Jawbone Up 24, Pebble, Pebble Steel a Galaxy Gear or something else… maybe even Google Glass. If you walk into a restaurant and look around at everyone's wrists, though, chances are you're not going to see a whole bunch of wearables. It's still a pretty untapped market, but why? According to a report from Nielsen, cost is still a big factor for most folks.
Most of the aforementioned products cost somewhere between $100 and $300, save for Google Glass which is still prohibitively expensive for most folks. If you're not looking at a simple fitness band, chances are the product costs a bit more, too. Samsung's new line of wearables, for example, still cost $200 to $300. In order for these products to go mainstream, they may have to drop a lot more in price. Nielsen found that 72 percent of Americans who already own a wearable device still wish they weren't as expensive. And that means those of us who are already excited enough to have spent money on them – not the folks who are still sitting on the sidelines.
Additionally, Nielsen said 62 percent of wearable users wish that there were other form factors outside of wrist bands and watches (technically there are, like clips). 52 percent want them to be more stylish, too, and to "look more like jewelry." Jawbone has done decent job at creating fashionable wearables, and the Pebble Steel isn't quite an eye-sore, but the market does still lack a large selection of nice looking wearables.
The report also found that functionality is most important to users – 81 percent of survey respondents said that makes a device most desirable. That makes sense, what's the point otherwise? 79 percent preferred comfort first, however, while 70 percent prefer accuracy. We argue that should fall under functionality, along with the next category: 64 percent think battery life is of utmost importance. Nielsen also found that fitness bands are still the most popular wearables, 71 percent of survey respondents owned that category, while smart watches were the second most popular at 45 percent, followed by mobile health devices at 17 percent.
It really appears to come down to function and cost. Pebble seems to be doing the best in that arena right now, at least with its affordable smartwatch that supports Android and iOS and works really well, though it lacks the most popular wearable function: fitness support. Google may bring that to the table with Android Wear, but right now rumors of Apple's health-focused iWatch may grab a large chunk of this defined market. Then again, can it deliver on cost?
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