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Gartner: Smart Watches Won't Make It Big this Season

Gartner: Smart Watches Won't Make It Big this Season
By Seth Fitzgerald

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Until 2017, industry research firm Gartner does not expect smart watches to become anything more than companion devices for smartphones. As of right now, they are mostly used to receive notifications from a Bluetooth-enabled phone, but provide few features themselves otherwise. Until they have intrinsic value, the market will not take off.
 



Even though the hype has been building around smart watches and numerous companies are trying to get theirs onto the market before 2014, industry research firm Gartner has released a report predicting that smart watches will not be big this holiday season. This news comes only a short time after other polls showed that wearable tech will have a hard time catching on in the U.S. and will not become a big market for quite a while.

Once you combine smart watches' expensive price tag and the unclear reasons why someone would want one, smart watches become an unattractive product, Gartner said. Some companies, including Samsung, have seen some early success with smart watches but overall, the market has only recently started to grow.

Many Devices, Little Interest

Whenever a market shift in the technology industry occurs, companies come out with versions of the new product before the public actually cares or sees a reason why the product is important. This seems to be what is happening with smart watches and other wearable technologies, as Samsung, Qualcomm, Pebble, and others, rush to market with devices that probably will not sell well.

"Samsung and other well-known vendors have recently entered the smart watch space, yet the products we have seen so far have been rather uninspiring in terms of design, available apps and features," said Annette Zimmermann, an analyst with Gartner.

Out of all the smart-watch companies with a device that has already become available, Samsung is the largest and is a good example of what is wrong with the smart-watch market overall. Samsung's Galaxy Gear has seen 800,000 sales (according to Samsung's figures) but reviewers have overwhelmingly criticized it as a relatively unnecessary device with limited battery life.

As of right now, all these devices are merely companions to actual smartphones, and yet they cost more than the average smartphone does upfront. With Gartner's latest report, it makes sense that Apple is taking its time to enter the smart-watch market, as it hopes more people will be interested in wearable devices if it releases an iWatch.

Just a Companion

Until 2017, Gartner does not expect smart watches to become anything more than companion devices for smartphones. As of right now, they are mostly used to receive notifications from a Bluetooth-enabled phone, but provide few features themselves otherwise. This means that the smart-watch market will be unable to see a significant amount of growth until the devices begin to offer some sort of intrinsic value, instead of relying on smartphones to become operable.

"As a result, Gartner predicts that wearable devices will remain a companion to mobile phones at least through 2017, with less than one percent of premium phone users opting to replace their phone with a combination of a wearable device and a tablet." Zimmermann said.

Gartner expects that once the watches come down in price and begin to offer their own set of apps or even hardware features such as cameras, they will start to become commonplace in the US.
 

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