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Report: Wearables Dominated by Activity Trackers as Smart Watches Tick Down

The wearables market was dominated by activity trackers in the first quarter of 2014, outpacing sales of smart watches by a margin of 4-to-1.

Wearables — smart mobile devices that are worn on the body — are becoming an increasingly prevalent component of the Internet of Things and are expected to have a significant impact on campus networks as students and faculty begin carrying more and more Internet-connected devices with them wherever they go.

In the first quarter of 2014 alone, nearly 3 million smart watches and activity/fitness trackers were shipped to consumers, according to ABI Research. Of those, 2.35 million were fitness trackers; 510,000 were smart watches.

ABI forecast shipments of about 17 million wearables this year, including 10 million fitness trackers and 7 million smart watches.

"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," said ABI Senior Practice Director Nick Spencer, in a prepared statement. "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."

However, he added: "We shouldn't dismiss smartwatches, which are an evolving and, if you believe in reincarnation, a nascent category. 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."

The top smart watch vendors in Q1 included:

  1. Samsung
  2. Sony
  3. Pebble
  4. Casio.

The top activity tracker manufacturers were:

  1. Fitbit
  2. Garmin
  3. Nike
  4. Jawbone.

ABI noted that sales of smart watches declined dramatically in Q1 2014 compared with Q4 2013, owing largely to seasonality. No. 1 smart watch manufacturer Samsung is expected to come out with upgraded devices in Q2, which could drive further growth in the smart watch category.

Additional details can be found in ABI's Wearables and Smart Accessories Market Research.


About the Author

David Nagel is editorial director of 1105 Media's Education Technology Group and editor-in-chief of THE Journal and STEAM Universe. A 25-year publishing veteran, Nagel has led or contributed to dozens of technology, art and business publications.

He can be reached at [email protected]. You can also connect with him on LinkedIn at or follow him on Twitter at @THEJournalDave (K-12) or @CampusTechDave (higher education).

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