Widget UK
Widget UK

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The year of wearable computing started early

Founder and Chairman of Consumer Electronics Distributor Widget UK Ltd, Mark Needham, examines the electronics market and the rise of a niche consumable, wearable computing.

Taken as a whole, retail spending on consumer electronics is expected to be flat or slightly declining in 2013, as the market for flat screen televisions reaches saturation and spending on home PCs decline.

But within that overall trend, there will be categories of products which grow in sales. Wearable computing which monitors fitness, health, activity or other bodily functions will be one of the fastest growing segments with sales expected to at least double from 2013 over 2012.

Richard Holway is one of the top analysts on news from the IT sector and I have stolen the title of this theme from him.

“I’ve been writing about ‘wearable computing’ for several years now,” he wrote recently, “but I think I am now sure enough to declare 2014 as “The Year of Wearable Computing’. Indeed it will probably be earlier – H2 2013.”

In fact, wearable computing seems to have started already. Widget distributes Fitbit, a wearable activity monitor which has been selling in the UK since January 2012.

Nike started selling the Fuelband in Europe last spring and Garmin has been selling its fitness watches through sports and camping outlets throughout 2012 as well. This year will see competitor products from Withings, new players such as Misfit, and Jawbone who have just bought a startup called Body Media presumably to improve on the poor performance of Jawbone’s original product in this area.

Further into the crystal ball, Apple is rumoured to be developing an iWatch. Taking the market for these products as a whole, I can imagine that 2013 sales of these products in EMEA will be up by several hundred percent on their 2012 levels.

As Holway says “The killer application is ‘health’..it will start with the very healthy wanting to use it whilst jogging/cycling/hiking etc. But it will soon be deployed for the ill/old too – a huge market.”

Crucially this is a product category which will increase the size of the overall computing market, unlike the tablet computer market where every hundred pounds spent on tablet computers replaces more than a hundred pound’s worth of laptops and desktops.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Widget UK .

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