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Wearable devices trumped smartphones and tablets at electronics shows in 2014, signaling another advance in consumer electronics is under way: The technology around us is becoming part of who we are physically. And so, too, are the brands that make use of these devices, according to a new eMarketer report, “Wearables: 10 Insights on Device Adoption and Business Opportunities.”
Wearable device shipments are expected to grow by triple-digit percentages this year; International Data Corporation projected the number of wearable device units shipped worldwide in 2014 would total 19.2 billion units—a more than 200% increase. Yet enthusiasm is tempered by two factors. First, significant growth is not surprising in a new tech category, especially one that encompasses a large swath of device types. Essentially, there is a wearable for every major body part. Second, the “magic” product—one that attracts a majority of consumers—has yet to come to market. Many suspect that Apple Watch will be that product when it launches in early 2015. But at this point, penetration among US consumers is low across all subcategories of wearables.
Ignoring wearables is a mistake, however. The early-adopter set is gravitating toward these devices, signaling the US market is ripe for the next tech innovation.
And forward-looking businesses are already active in
Screens are appearing on more wearable devices, and the display technology is improving. However, the more passive use cases for the devices—wearing, tracking and notifying—have marketers focused on engaging consumers via wearables rather than expecting them to interact physically with the device.
“Interaction on these devices will not be through two-thumb typing,” said Atul Satija, vice president of global revenue and operations at mobile advertising network InMobi. At most, he added, “interaction has to be a single-finger touch that is more of a ‘yes/no’ command.”
In turn, many marketers believe messages sent to a smart watch, for instance, should drive interaction elsewhere. And with limited opportunities around touch-based interaction, Satija and others contend voice will also be a more user-friendly and efficient means of interacting with wearables.
Ultimately, the goal of the message sent to the wearable should “give just enough information for the user to make a decision whether or not they want to take that next action—getting out their phone,” said Kira Wampler, CMO of real estate search site Trulia. Aiming for any complex interaction on the device itself is not likely to succeed.
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