Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Fitness wearables to treble by 2018, says report

Steve Rogerson
December 1, 2014
Fitness wearables in-use will more than treble by 2018, compared with an estimated 19 million in-use devices this year, according to a report by Juniper Research. The market researcher expects fitness to remain the dominant wearables segment until that time, driven by intuitive use cases and lower retail prices. However, the broader appeal of smart watches will mean that they will be used more frequently in later years.

The report – Smart Health & Fitness Wearables: Device Strategies, Trends & Forecasts 2014-2019 – said the diversity of fitness wearables would bring about two classes of fitness device. Basic trackers, such as the $13 Xiaomi MiBand, will sell on their value, while more complex devices, such as the Fitbit Surge, Microsoft Band and Samsung Gear Fit, will offer additional features beyond fitness, such as notifications and music control.

More capable devices will compete with smart watches, especially those that offer similar notification functions, such as the MetaWatch M1 and Martian Notifier. However, more aesthetically-minded consumers will still choose watches, as fitness-focused devices will prioritise function over form.

The report anticipates that sales of healthcare-focused wearable devices will increase, from wearable ECGs (electrocardiograms) to glucose monitors and insulin pumps. While they are currently used in areas where self-medication is the norm, capabilities will expand to allow monitoring by healthcare professionals in other areas. This will only happen once questions around regulation are answered, however.

Other key findings include Fitbit remaining the leading player for fitness tracking, although its decision not to integrate with Apple Health may harm its market share in the short term. With engagement a key pain point for fitness wearables, start-up GOQii is pioneering a new service-based business model, offering contact with fitness coaches alongside its device.