Five big obstacles facing smartwatches

Think smartwatches and fitness bands are going to be the next big thing? According to research by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech there are five big obstacles facing these devices.

Think smartwatches and fitness bands are going to be the next big thing? According to research by Kantar Worldpanel ComTech, there are five big obstacles facing these devices.

Of those who said that they had no intention of purchasing a smartwatch or fitness band in the next 12 months, 41 percent said that the reason was that they are too expensive. While you might expect someone to say that of the Apple Watch, this is a bit surprising given that the Pebble Classic starts at $99 (that said, the Classic is, in my opinion, an ugly bit of kit).

"With wearables, the purchase decision will be greatly impacted by the absence of the kind of subsidy people have become accustomed to with smartwatches. Smartphone buyers have been protected from the actual cost of their device, but they will see the true cost of wearables from the outset," said Carolina Milanesi, chief of research at Kantar Worldpanel ComTech.

Either the Apple Watch is defining everything about the smartwatch market - including price - or the Pebble is an unknown outside the ranks of geeks, nerds and early adopters.

The next reason, cited by 33 percent of those not interested in smartwatches, is that their smartphone already does everything they need. Quite a valid claim considering that smartwatches are, on the whole, little more than a second display for smartphones.

The next reason is a real zinger - 32 percent said that they just don't wear a watch. The ubiquity of the smartphone killed watch wearing, and it may have killed smartwatches before they even got a chance to take off.

Another reason for not jumping on the smartwatch bandwagon, cited by 29 percent of respondents, was that smartwatches just weren't useful to them. 27 percent also said that they didn't understand why they needed one, which suggests the previous reason could be more down to poor marketing than people making an informed decision.

"Considering the poor job vendors have done thus far in defining the smartwatch category it is surprising that 52% of those interviewed were able to identify what these devices are: something you wear like a watch, and that let you runs apps," Milanesi said.

With only 3 percent of US population over 16 owning a smartwatch or fitness band, there's clearly huge room for expansion. But it's clear that there are some serious hindrances in the way to growth. And while some of these obstructions can be dealt with (such as price), other factors (such as resistance to wearing wristwatches) might not be so easy to overcome.

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