While Google Glass has not broken into the mainstream, smartwatches and fitness wristbands may be on the cusp of doing so. The CEO of Pebble (smartwatch) told Fortune that it had sold 400,00 watches in 2013 and the company’s investors expect revenues to double this year.
According to survey data (November 2013) from Nielsen, 70 percent of US consumers are aware of “wearables” and roughly 15 percent currently own and use some form wearable technology. Among that 15 percent here’s the breakdown:
- Fitness wristbands — 61 percent
- Smartwatches — 45 percent
- Mobile health tracking — devices 17
The Nielsen survey data suggest that about 36 million adult Americans currently own and use some form of wearable technology. When translated into actual population terms like that, the 15 percent number appears to be too high. However it’s fair to say that the potential market for wearables is very large, perhaps up to 100 million people.
Below are some other findings about the current wearable population profiled in the Nielsen data:
- 48 percent of current wearable owners are under 34 years old
- Men and women are equally interested in wearable technology
- Nearly 30 percent of existing wearable owners make more than $100K
- Most (75 percent) wearables owners consider themselves “early adopters”
There were a variety of reasons given in the survey data for interest in wearable technology, as well as a list of device-specific desired features (e.g., battery life, functionality, aesthetics).
Nielsen adds that “Nearly half of Americans surveyed expressed their interest in purchasing wearable tech in the near future.” The survey data also confirm what we’ve previously argued — that cost is a major factor as well as design:
But cost will likely be a limiting factor—72 percent of users said they wish wearables were less expensive. Another barrier to entry could be fashion, as 62 percent said they wish wearables came in forms besides wrist bands and watches, and 53 percent wanted wearable devices that look more like jewelry.