New research from Forrester suggests that the industry is just weeks away from a watershed year for wearables.
"In 2015, wearables will hit mass market," begins a blog post by Forrester vice president JP Gownder that explores the research firm's new report, Five Urgent Truths About The Future Of Wearables That Every Leader Should Know. Heading up the charge is the iDevice maker from Cupertino, Calif.
"With Apple's much-anticipated Apple Watch slated for release early next year, the already hype-heavy conversation will reach new heights," continued Forrester.
Gownder and company join other tech industry watchers in proclaiming 2015 the year that wearables come into their own. In October, Gartner named wearables among the top trends IT managers will have to contend with next year, along with Big Data and the Internet of Things.
Rank-and-file employees are already laying the groundwork. A recent study from workforce management software specialist Kronos and Harris Poll found that 73 percent of workers believe that wearable devices can improve their work environment in some way.
Forrester has arrived at the same conclusion. "People want them," said Gownder.
"While wearables have indeed suffered from a hype bubble, demand for them is real," he stated. There have been missteps, but given the resources being poured into the device category, other vendors may find success where Nike tumbled. "Yes, Nike's walking away from Fuel Band, but Apple, Microsoft, Google, Samsung, and Salesforce.com all are making major commitments to the market," said Gownder.
Forrester's data reveals that 45 percent of online adults in the U.S. are intrigued by the thought of obtaining a wearable device. In Europe, that figure dips to 32 percent.
While consumers may be growing more eager to adorn themselves with tech, not every body part is fair game.
"The wrist appeals to over a third of consumers in the US and the EU – even before Apple releases its device," observed Gownder. "This interest is growing: Last year in the US, 28 percent of online adults showed interest in a wrist-based wearable, compared with 42 percent this year."
Apparel-based wearables don't quite stack up. "Wearables embedded in, or clipped onto, clothing and shoes show under-appreciated interest," said Gownder. Interest in smart glasses and headphones is similarly tepid.
The research makes a case for a lower-cost version Google Glass, however. Currently, the price of entry into the company's Glass Explorer Edition is $1,500. Forty-three percent of US online adults told Forrester that "might be interested in Google Glass if the price were right."
Apple's $3 billion acquisition of Beats involves more than pumping tunes into consumers' ears, hinted Gownder. "We predict that Apple will turn Beats headphones into another node on the All-Body network, a Siri-powered device that interacts with iPhones and Apple Watches alike."
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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