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Wearable Tech Gaining Traction In The UK

January 21, 2016 - Written By Dominik Bosnjak

The amount of wearable technology bought in the United Kingdom last year has more than doubled in comparison to 2014, according to the international market research company Mintel. More specifically, it’s estimated that 3 million smartwatches and fitness trackers were bought in the 12-month period starting in September of 2014, which is an increase of 118% in comparison to the previous period. These results more or less correspond to the IDC predictions stated last June.

According to the same source, fitness trackers, lead by Fitbit, are still the most popular choice of wearable tech, but not by much – they’ve shipped 1.9 million devices, a number which accounts for 63% of sold smart gadgets in comparison to 1.1 million (37%) of purchased smartwatches. That is a huge change when we look at the previous period in which fitness trackers accounted for 91% of all wearable technology sales. There’s little doubt that the more balanced market share and increase in popularity of wearable tech in general, is due to the launch of Apple Watch which hit the UK stores in April of 2015, not to mention plenty of Android watch manufacturers upping their game with highly improved models such as Samsung Gear S2 and Moto 360.

Mintel analyst Sara Ballaben stated that fitness trackers are still outselling smartwatches due to the fact that they’re less expensive, more established on the market, and “offer a compelling practical benefit to active users.” She also predicted that smartwatches will become more popular as the phablet market continues to grow, presumably because the difference in convenience between doing simple tasks like checking notifications on a smartphone and a smartwatch is proportionally bigger to how large the size of the phone screen is. As a matter of fact, she believes that even the current rise in sales of smartwatches is due to the increasing popularity of phablets. Interestingly enough, the data from the firm doesn’t exactly confirm that train of thought, as less than 10% of both fitness tracker and smartwatch owners interviewed by Mintel said that they’re planning on upgrading to a new device, implying they’re either happy or unhappy enough with their longevity and price for this trend to continue much further, especially as 60% of consumers are still concerned about security of wearable tech. Naturally, when an existing user base is unwilling to upgrade and over half has big concerns over the product, it remains to be seen whether wearable tech can sustain similar growth in 2016. If Juniper Research predictions are to be believed, it won’t. That isn’t to say the industry is at its peak, just that the market is far from stabilizing.