• Sunday, May 26, 2024
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BusinessDay

Phone makers promote wearable technology as demand rises

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As the new wearable device technology fad spreads to Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy by GDP, phone manufacturers are currently promoting their electronic accessories – smart watches, glasses, and fitness bands- with a view to further garner marketshare and improve revenues.

Market observers are of the view that demand is rising as smartphone integration, increasing convergence of functionality and design has indeed led to the rising number of wearable technology products. According to Technology Distribution (TD), over 10 million smart devices worth $1billion (N167bn) were sold in Nigeria in 2013. Market observers are however of the view that the next wave of hardware innovation in the mobile industry is wearable technology. Deliotte, research company, has predicted that smart glasses, fitness bands and watches, would sell about 10 million units in 2014, generating some $3 billion.

Industry heavyweights, Google, Samsung, Huawei, Nokia, Sony, already see this enormous revenue potential, with many of them pushing out more wearable devices, along side smaller boutique manufacturers entering the space, as they seek to garner more marketshare and revenue, in an evolving mobile industry. Paul Lee, director, global research lead, TMT, Deliotte, is however optimistic about the rise of wearable devices and its impact on the global technology industry. “Consider that in 2014, billions of us will glance through trillions of times at connected screens, from vast digital billboards to computer screens, and from car dashboards to smartphones.

The addition of a tiny screen which is permanently in line-of-sight will complement the array of screens we already use: it may enable some of us to stay permanently updated with flows of information we crave”, said Lee, in an interview with BusinessDay.

Market observers say the battle for space on people’s body is really under way, as Nigerian customers are already excited about these new gizmos that come with a wide range of changeable straps and interface themes. Wearable technology is not an isolated phenomenon, but part of the larger wave of the ‘Internet of Things’, with a potential economic impact of up to $6.2 trillion annually by 2025, according to the research firm, McKinsey. “For wearables to be successful, they need to add to the user experience by complementing and enhancing what other devices already offer.

They also need to be stylish yet practical, and most of all hit the right price,” said Carolina Milanesi, research vice president at Gartner. Samsung recently launched its wearable-technology line-up – the Gear 2 and Gear Fit in Nigeria, offering consumers enhanced connectivity alongside an integrated communication experience.

“The next generation of wearable mobile solutions must directly reflect the diverse interests and needs of consumers”, said Emmanouil Revmatas, director, Information Technology (IT) and Mobile, Samsung Electronics West Africa (SEWA). The Gear 2, an upgrade of Samsung’s original Gear device, incorporates a 1.63-inch screen, a 2-megapixel camera that is now located on the device’s screen, a sensor that enables usage of the device as a television remote control and a personal fitness coaching guide.

“Our Gear product portfolio continues to expand with unique devices for a wide range of lifestyles, including the Gear 2 and the new Gear Fit designed to help those consumers striving to live fit and active lives without sacrificing their own personal style or their ability to stay connected on the go”, he added.

Sony’s SmartBand boasts impressive and insanely detailed life-logging capabilities.

When linked to a compatible Android phone, the SmartBand and LifeLog application together record location data, camera activity, and social-media happenings in real time. Apple Incorporated has finally joined the wearable tech race with the launch of its long awaited smartwatch – the Apple Watch – the first new product line since the first iPad and the death of its co-founder Steve Jobs. The device runs applications, acts as a health and fitness tracker and communicates with the iPhone. While rival smartwatches already exist, industry experts, and mobile phone enthusiats say Apple has a history of entering sectors relatively late and then changing their direction.

 Ben Uzor