Wearable device sales in the first quarter of 2014 were dominated by ‘activity trackers’, according to a new report from ABI Research. It says these fitness-related devices outsold smartwatches by four to one.
In total, 2.35 million activity trackers and 510,000 smartwatches were shipped in Q1. Fitbit currently has a majority share of the activity tracker market, while Samsung leads the smartwatch sector.
ABI Research notes that smartwatch sales dropped significantly in Q1 2014 compared to Q4 2013. Although Christmas sales were partly to blame, the main factor was the imminent launch of new Samsung Gear products, which prompted retailers and distributors to clear stocks of previous Samsung wearables.
Nick Spencer, senior practice director at ABI Research, said “Activity Trackers are currently the most viable consumer electronics wearable device category, because they have a clear use case that cannot be matched by smartphones, in contrast to smartwatches. End users have been happy to ditch their watches and use smartphones to tell the time, so extending smartphone functions to the watch is a weak use case and retrograde step.”
“Smartwatches will develop rapidly in 2014 and 2015, with hybrid activity tracker/smartwatches soon to hit the market, more specialized components being developed and most importantly the use case improving through a growing applications ecosystem. As the value proposition of smartwatches increases, however, the price will still need to decrease to balance with end-user expectations.”
This year, 10 million activity trackers and 7 million smartwatches are forecast to be shipped.