Wearables Picking Up Serious Steam In South Korea

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Back in September of 2015, the government of South Korea put a plan in place to help wearables gain traction in the country, as well as to help with local development of wearable devices. The plan entailed a government budget of roughly $110.6 million being available to device developers for the creation of wearables from 2016 to 2020. As well as helping to spur this segment of the local economy, the plan has helped to popularize wearables in general, particularly smartwatches, based on the latest carrier figures. Back in April of 2014, there were 50,237 registered users of wearable devices in the country. In just over two years, that number has jumped tenfold and then some, bringing the total number of wearable owners reported up to 510,066, not counting owners of unregistered wearables such as simple fitness trackers and cheap, minimally functional smartwatches like those typically found for less than $50 on most e-commerce outlets.

While the new budget plan is a big help, the wearable space in South Korea is still complicated to navigate at best. Software and hardware must meet stringent guidelines during development, despite the fact that there are still a relatively low number of developers on the scene to help with creating the kind of technological webs, so to speak, that would aid in increasing developers' ease of creation and overall output. Many are pushing for the government to help with the current regulation framework, as well as to develop new measures that would support convergence markets that would increase the profitability of the wearable market, such as helping to get more smartphones out there for cheaper or to help carriers adopt more smartwatches that can pull double-duty as phones. Although Samsung and LG call South Korea home, the market finds itself a bit sparse outside of their mega-popular products, mostly due to lack of developers and lack of funding.

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Future plans for the growth of wearable devices in the country include, for the most part, taking the government out of the equation when it comes to making the wearables, besides helping to provide funding. The government will get involved, however, in a new quality certification plan. Wearable devices that make the mark will receive official government endorsement to increase the public's faith in the product, and could even end up on government procurement lists, being bought up en masse for government use.