How the watch industry has changed! As a show of its strength and popularity, Apple Watch has taken the crown, not just among smartwatches, but outselling the entire Swiss watch industry in Q4. Now, that’s quite an accomplishment!
Guess it was only a matter of time as Samsung Pay has been extended to the Gear 3 and Gear Sport. This will let consumers use their smartwatches, on top of their smartphones, to make purchases.
Samsung Pay on Gear is protected by Samsung Knox for enhanced security. It functions independently so users need not bring their phone along to make payment with their smartwatches. They can view their transaction record on Samsung Pay Plugin, an associated application for Samsung Gear.
In another development in Hong Kong, HSBC and Hang Seng Bank have become Samsung Pay partners. Both banks’ customers can start using Samsung Pay for their credit cards from November 2.
Smartwatches are attracting lots of attention but the prices are keeping many at bay, at least for now. Come next year, the prices are expected to average US$30, as smartphone vendors and component suppliers look to tap this market. In fact, Xiaomi has already introduced the Mi Band at just US$13.
Gartner predicts that by 2016, smartwatches will comprise about 40 percent of consumer wristworn devices. Nine out of the top 10 smartphone vendors have entered the wearables market to date or are about to ship a first product, while a year ago only two vendors were in that space.
“Apple has finally unveiled its Apple Watch, which we expect to trigger more consumer interest once it starts shipping in 2015,” said Angela McIntyre, Research Director of Gartner.
Activity tracker: technology before sports brands
At IFA Berlin last week, vendors introduced a number of wearable devices. Of course, most are not available immediately but it’s a signal of things to come when wearables start getting nearly as much attention as smartphones. In fact, wearables are riding on the success and pervasiveness of smartphones.
According to a recent GfK survey in China, South Korea, Germany, the UK and the US, wearable devices are creating an even closer relationship between humans and technology, with innovations such computer-supported watches, fitness armbands and data glasses, which are generally used in conjunction with a smartphone.
Fitness monitoring is the most important area of application for consumers in Germany, the UK and the US, whereas recording health data is regarded as a priority in China. A detailed breakdown of personal statistics on fitness, health and sleep is ranked as the priority by South Korean consumers.
Opinions in the surveyed countries also differed with regard to the most important criteria behind making a purchase. In China, compatibility is the most commonly named factor (19 percent), followed by accuracy (17 percent). However, brand is also seen as the decisive factor in the purchase decision for 16 percent of Chinese consumers. In South Korea, compatibility is viewed as the most important factor (19 percent), while there is a tie for second place between price and user-friendliness (both 17 percent).
Activity trackers are manufactured by companies operating in a range of sectors and the study found that well-known technology companies have the greatest sales potential in all countries surveyed. In South Korea, 69 percent of consumers say that such companies would be their first choice for any potential purchase, as do 54 percent in China.
However, the popularity of sports brands is particularly widespread among younger target groups. According to the study, the sales potential of activity trackers from specialised technology brands, fashion companies and luxury brands is only very limited.
In comparison to activity trackers, smartwatches offer a wider range of applications. Depending on the model, it may be possible to use these watches for telephone calls and navigation services, while some also enable users to search the internet and record data on sporting activity and health. According to the GfK study, this is considered the main area of application for smartwatches by consumers in all surveyed countries, which makes smartwatches a genuine competitor for pure activity trackers.
For Chinese consumers, the ability to monitor activity is a certain winner in this category, at 35 percent, followed by the telephone function (16 percent) and the GPS in third place (11 percent). Respondents in South Korea are also primarily motivated by the ability to monitor activity (27 percent), with the telephone function second (21 percent) and the use of apps coming third (11 percent) in the ranking.
Well-known technology companies are named as the preferred supplier of smartwatches by respondents in all countries. They are considerably ahead of sports brands in second place. The Chinese market, above all, holds potential for luxury brands from the fashion and watch industries.