If the gizmo fits, wear it

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If the gizmo fits, wear it
Wearables is pegged to witness consistent growth as the younger generation embraces this technology further.

Dubai - Wearable technologies seem to be everywhere - and it's only getting started

By Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 27 Sep 2017, 9:55 PM

Last updated: Wed 27 Sep 2017, 11:57 PM

Wearables are the latest trend that is taking the UAE by storm with Apple and Samsung leading the pack with demands from millennial generation, say industry executives.
According to Niranjan Gidwani, CEO of Eros Group, this category has been there for five years but has seen significant growth in the past three years. Globally until 2021, as per Gartner, smart watches will have the highest growth rate, surpassing all other categories.
"Wearables are targeted and best-suited for the millennial generation and they have embraced the technology fast. But in the next few years this category will witness the highest growth from a younger demographic, i.e. the 15-24 age group," he told Khaleej Times.
Gidwani said wearables will definitely have a consistent growth as the younger generation embraces this technology further. The company's wearable segment has grown at an average of 25 per cent year-on-year.
Fitness trackers have been around the longest and hence lead the wearable category. Smart watches, with aggressive pricing in recent years, come in a close second. Of late, there has been a significant increase in demand for virtual reality headsets as well.
Two sub categories, according to the Eros Group CEO, which are expected to do well, are kids' smart watches and fashion and traditional watch brands. Kids' smart watches are likely to form 30 per cent of smart watch shipments in quantity by 2021. Fashion and traditional watch brands are likely to have 20-25 per cent quantity share in smart watches by 2021.
Nadeem Khanzadah, head of omnichannel retail at Jumbo, said wearable electronics devices have generated a great deal of popularity in the Middle East. As customers are becoming more tech-savvy, there is a growing demand for products that are easy to use and more convenient than traditional technology. Smart watches and fitness-related wearables continue to be some of the most popular devices in the UAE.
The International Data Corporation expects the Middle East and Africa wearables market to grow 20.9 per cent year-on-year in 2017 to reach a total of 2.9 million units. "The next wave of growth for the wearables market will stem from adoption by value-seeking customers and from existing fitness band owners looking to upgrade to smartwatches now that they offer a better value proposition," said Nakul Dogra, senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC MEA.
"Wearables vendors should focus on effectively utilising the data captured by the sensors on these gadgets so that the day-to-day tasks performed by users can be made more straightforward and less time consuming. The role of third-party application developers will be critical in achieving this, so vendors should look to actively engage with the developer community," he added.
The main factor driving the wearable is utility, Gidwani said. "Smart watches have seen a huge increase in demand as they act as fitness trackers plus mobile assistants. As further technological enhancements come into the product, we see this category growing even faster. Many technology companies and even watch companies are investing in research and development for this category," he added.
Apple, Samsung dominate
In the UAE, amongst the high-demand wearable products, Apple, Samsung and Huawei smartwatches are witnessing an encouraging sales trend. "Apple will continue to have the highest market share in quantity until 2021, as per Gartner. Many Chinese manufacturers with their aggressive pricing strategies are also breaking into the market making it extremely competitive. But, Samsung and Apple still have the best technology ecosystem for their wearable devices," Gidwani noted.
"Smart watches have definitely become more popular because they support a variety of features that are beneficial for consumers. Answering phones calls and surfing through social media, some of the basic everyday activities have become quite easy to do thanks to these devices. Fitness trackers controlled most of the market. However, this is rapidly changing because the market is becoming more tech-savvy. Increasingly, tech firms are cooperating with renowned fashion brands on new offerings to keep customers interested, and this approach will be helpful in driving wearables growth as it opens up the devices to fresh audiences through the addition of point of sales in fashion outlets," Khanzadah said.
"We have seen good traction for smart watches, which are now a much faster growing category than fitness/activity trackers. Brands such as Samsung and Apple has become a market leader in this segment, with the Samsung Gear S3 line of smart watches and the Apple Series 1 and Series 2 smart watches, which have been well received by first-time users as well as by the more tech-savvy consumers," he added.
Khanzadah said smart watches have generated a lot of demand amongst the younger customers between the ages of 16-40, who tend be tech-savvy and lead an active lifestyle. However, there has been a lot of interest among the older age group as well. The latter group of customers have been adapting to new technologies available really well, but the growth is still slow.
He added that one of the main factors driving the growth of the wearables industry is the convenience they provide. Furthermore, innovation in wearables has made wearable devices more accessible and convenient - including the birth of smaller devices that have a long battery life. "Customers do not have to sit in one place and wait to charge their devices as most of the products in the market come with wireless charging. They can control most aspects of their lives through these devices and do not have to worry about sensitive information getting into the wrong hands. The fact that they can customise these devices according to their preferences, makes wearables easier to use and more attractive than traditional technology," he added.
"As more customers adapt to the replacement cycle of high-tech devices, we expect that the biggest growth will come from smart watches. As people are become fitness enthusiasts and more health conscious, the demand for fitness-related wearables is also expected to grow significantly in the future."
- waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com

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