Entirely new product categories generally take time to take off. Even the smartphone took years before penetration rose above 50% in advanced markets such as the United States. But it certainly feels as if there's something different at play when it comes to wearables
. While there's plenty of buzz about every new watch, fitness tracker, and head-worn device, the retention rate is low. Used (and cheap) Galaxy Gear smartwatches
are strewn across secondhand sites such as eBay, and research from Endeavour Partners has found that "one-third of American consumers who have owned a wearable product stopped using it within six months. What's more, while one in 10 American adults own some form of activity tracker, half of them no longer use it."
Reasons for the change of heart are varied depending on who you ask, but it feels as if these devices were heralded as the next great thing, but in practice, aren't so svelte. In fact, our smartphones are generally far more advanced and just as easy to look at. People also seem to have an addiction to large screens, and we've grown quite fond of constantly looking at the latest and greatets on a mobile device. Essentially, none of these wearables replace the allure of our phones.
Will wearables overcome the stutter start? It's tough to say. As they've improving, so are phones. It won't be long before every major smartphone has fitness tracking equipment already baked in, removing the need for a secondary device. Head-worn products still have years before they're accepted by the masses from a design standpoint, and one has to wonder if the public at large won't simply agree to "live without them."
Wearables came with a boom, but could easily end up being a niche market -- albeit a large and nimble one.