BLOG: Do consumers really want wearable tech?

With channel chatter focusing on emerging tech, it’s easy to forget about traditional desktop sales and how we can stop their decline
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That was the question left playing on my mind after attending tech trade show Distree EMEA in February.

With mobile devices still being lapped up by users, you’d be forgiven for thinking the smaller, the better, and that smartwatches and smartglasses will be the next logical step. But I’m not so sure that the majority of consumers – or even some early-adopting techheads – are ready to attach what is essentially a tiny computer to their wrists.

Retailers are also completely divided over the issue. Of the 100-plus we spoke to as part of our annual retail survey, half said they will happily consider stocking and servicing emerging technology, from wearables to 4K HD devices. The other half is unconvinced that these products will hit the mainstream.

One senior exec from a leading UK distributor told me that retail doesn’t know what to do with wearable tech just yet.

Despite all the headlines and hype over the past few years, the channel remains undecided.

Perhaps what we need is an iPhone of the wearable world – an affordable product that really fulfills a need and leads the way? The rumour I heard at Distree is that Pebble is working on something that will really push this market forward. Analyst GfK meanwhile believes smaller, thinner devices will lead the way in 2014.

With channel chatter focusing on emerging tech, it’s easy to forget about traditional desktop sales and how we can stop their decline.

I’d like to end my column this month with a quote I overheard at Distree: “Just because we have wearable technology doesn’t mean there is a commercial or practical application for it.”

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