Wearable technology appears to be enduring a tough period of infancy, with just 8% of consumers claiming to own a device.
Cyber enthusiasts believe wearable items running practical functions could lead the charge for a world of ubiquitous computing. Yet despite the tech community being in rapture over devices like Google Glass and the Moto 360 smartwatch, it seems the buzz is not quite hitting home with the everyday consumer.
A survey of 4,000 people across four key markets in the UK, US, China and Brazil shows that while 75% are aware of technology like smartwatches and fitness trackers, very few have decided to purchase a device.
Arriving courtesy of analyst CCS Insight, notes in the study acknowledged that manufacturers had plenty of work to do in demonstrating the benefits of their wearable items.
Popular but not well-sold
The smartwatch is considered to be one of the more recognised members of the wearable product category and appears to be boasting a great deal of awareness. Unfortunately this attention is only having a limited impact sales, as CCS confirmed.
The top reason for not purchasing a smartwatch was a lack of point (34%) followed by high prices (29%). A general reluctance to go for ‘style over substance’ was only highlighted with the revelation that just under half of smartwatch owners (49%) are actually interested in the function of their device. Adding further weight to this point, an even larger proportion of the group (50%) said they purchase their smartwatch because they were interested in the technology.
Another wearable made popular by the press is the fitness tracker, which registered an even lower margin of interest for its function.
CCS found that just 37% of device owners were interested in basic features like tracking for sleep, temperature, heart rate and calorie intake. Not only this, 22% said they would not be upgrading their device due to their smartphone being able to perform all the tasks they needed.
Experts see potential
It may only be 2014, but adoption of wearable devices will need to pick up significantly before analysts’ expectations are met.
Intel believes 500 million items will have been sold annually by 2020 as manufacturers start to get creative with their offerings.
In addition to smartwatches and fitness trackers, the firm sees potential in connected items of clothing and baby monitors which can inform parents about when their child needs to be changed and taken to the doctor.
Current sales of wearables are at 50 million per year, and CCS analyst George Jijiashvili believes it will be up to the manufacturers to push this figure upwards.
"While global awareness of wearable devices is very high, consumers' overall knowledge of the products and subsequent conversion to sales are very low,” he stated.
“Consumer electronics companies primed for success urgently need to address the gap between the public's awareness and ownership by clearly communicating the benefits wearables can offer."