Over the past year, we’ve seen as companies have started to embrace the smartwatch like never before. Even companies that have done well selling fitness trackers, like Fitbit and Garmin, have been adjusting for a smartwatch world.
Now we have new data from Forrester to help us understand why these companies are turning to devices like the Fitbit Ionic and Vivoactive 3: Smartwatches are expected to become 55% of the wearable market by 2022, according to Forrester, up from 21% in 2016.
There are a couple reasons why smartwatches are on the verge of swallowing the wearable market. The first reason, according to Forrester, is that prices are falling. As component costs go down, more companies can make more affordable smartwatches. Regular people also don’t have one main reason they want a wearable, they have3 a couple, and that includes health, notifications, mobile payments and traveling-related activities.
Obviously, smartwatches are better equipped to deliver all of those experiences in a single device, which seems to be partly why Forrester is predicting its rise. At the same time, Forrester also believes companies are figuring out how to create a smartwatch that has a good user experience. We’ve seen this play out in real time too, with the likes of Apple, Samsung, Fitbit and even Garmin slowly improving their user interfaces.
However, one of the major growth points for wearables is going to be in health care. Forrester reports that efforts are underway to better integrate wearables into the American health care system. This means insurance companies subsidizing wearables if it means that customers are healthier thanks to wearables, which is something we’ve already seen begin with the National Health Service in the UK and Vitality Life in the US.
There are a couple of potential problems Forrester has outlined that could slow wearable growth in the future. The first one is that companies keep failing to deliver wearables that meet the expectations of consumers, which includes things like presenting them health data without telling them how to use that data effectively to get healthier. The other is that more insurance companies need to offer subsidies for wearables to get people to wear them, as Forrester has found that great health features aren’t alone to sell wearables past a niche, health-focused market.
And of course, there’s the age-old smartwatch problem that some companies still struggle with: Apps don’t have to be big or deep to gain user engagement, they need to be able to work at a glance, and Forrester apparently thinks they need to be able to work primarily with voice, rather than touch or interesting input methods like Apple’s Digital Crown or Samsung’s rotating bezel.
Overall, Forrester finds that there are several factors that are converging to grow the smartphone market, which will help grow the wearable market to what’s being called “critical mass adoption” by 2022, rising from a $4.8 billion market in 2016 to a $9.1 billion market in 2022.
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