PCR caught up with John Weir, COO and event director of the Wearable Technology Show, to find out if there’s really a place for wearables in indie PC stores.
Tell us about the state of the wearables market right now?
The demand for wearable technology is growing annually, and the market in the UK is figured to be worth around £2 billion in the next decade. It’s becoming increasingly dominated in some sectors by bigger players like Samsung and Apple, but is seeing real innovation from small companies, which is helping to drive growth.
How popular is it in the UK?
Mintel claims that three million wearable devices were sold in the UK last year, which was up 118 per cent year on year; meaning that one in seven people in the UK now own a wearable device, including one in five younger consumers – aged 16-34.
Three per cent now own a smartwatch and fitness devices are surging as well – up 63 per cent. Research says that by 2019, 126 million wearables will be sold worldwide each year.
How has the show changed and grown since launch?
The show has grown exponentially; in 2014 we had 40 exhibitors and 1500 visitors, and this year, we expect over 6000 visitors and more than 130 exhibitors. The wearables sector is the most innovative and fastest growing in technology.
Is there a place for wearables in independent PC stores?
Absolutely. The interest in wearables of all descriptions in the UK is growing, and the falling costs and ubiquity of fitness bands and trackers means that smaller retailers will be able to make good margins on both brand and non-brand items.
Can Apple keep hold of the wearables crown or will other players be able to dethrone it?
There's no doubt that Apple's cachet as a brand is driving it to the top of the smartwatch sector. However, as form becomes as important (if not more so) than the technology, we'll see a raft of big brands entering the market.
We've already seen Fossil snap up Misfit Wearables for more than $250 million, and I'm sure more deals will follow.
Why should PC retailers attend?
This is the fastest growing area of technology, as it becomes more portable, personal, and well, wearable.
Retailers will be able to see a wealth of innovative new technology on display, hear from some of the thought leaders on where the market is heading, and gain an in-depth overview of connected technology.
The 2016 Wearable Technology Show takes place on March 15th and 16th at ExCel, London. To register to attend or find out more about the event, visit www.wearabletechnologyshow.net.