​Wearable market hampered by hardware, software design gap

Wearable technology providers are either good at hardware or the apps that come with them, but rarely both.

Wearable technology makers are struggling to design good hardware and software that's integrated and that puts the market--and all that personal data--up for grabs.

That high level takeaway can be found in a report from Argus Insights, which examined 136,000 consumer reviews between November 2015 and February 2016. What's notable is that wearable technology providers are either good at hardware or the apps that come with them, but rarely both.

For instance, Nike and Jawbone apps earn high delight scores, but the latter one is pummeled for its hardware. Hardware focused vendors like Samsung and Garmin struggle with software satisfaction. Fitbit straddles the middle. In a chart, the pecking order looks like this:


The biggest problem areas for apps are crashes, data syncing issues and installation issues. For the most part, consumers value the data thrown off by these devices.

In its report, Argus Insights noted:

Consumers are far happier with their Wearable Devices than the apps they use to interpret the data they collect, as shown in the chart below. Samsung and Lumo Body Tech see the highest delight ratings for their hardware, while consumers are generally disappointed with Jawbone devices. Despite this discontent with Jawbone bands, consumers prefer the company's app to other popular options. The presence of a gap in delight between hardware and software is not specific to Jawbone, as other companies see higher delight for their devices than their apps.
Even when consumers are happy with the device and all the things they can track and monitor with it, consumer satisfaction falls when looking at feedback about the apps people are using to store, track, and interpret this data.

Argus Insights said vendors need to collect data in a simple way and make it actionable. Jawbone excels in that category.

What's unclear is whether vendors that are good in one area can offset weakness elsewhere. For instance, Jawbone should be an app company (at least based on my experiences with the hardware). Hardware focused vendors need to up their app design games.

Add it up and you have a wearable market shakeout ahead. Mergers and acquisitions would most likely meld software and hardware design talent into one well rounded wearable company.