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A new forecast from technology analyst firm Juniper Research suggests that Apple's recent move into wearables is a smart and potentially lucrative one.
Global retail sales of wearable devices will reach $53.2 billion by 2019, the market research firm predicted. This year the market is expected to reach $4.5 billion in sales.
Juniper expects buyers to flock to devices like Apple Watch, which starts at $349, and Google Glass. "The market will be driven by an increase in sales of premium smart watches and smart glasses over the next five years," said the company in a statement.
Simply slapping a connected touchscreen onto a wrist is a surefire way to tank in the burgeoning market for wearables, warned Juniper. The research group argued that "vendors still need to get over the 'technology first' attitude and think in terms of consumer benefits for an increased product adoption."
Consumers still need some convincing, indicated Juniper's study. "The research observed that consumers are still unsure about the use case for many wearable devices, including watches and glasses," said the company.
The research firm also observed that potential buyers are looking for something other than a scaled-down smartphone experience. Signaling a need for fresh and innovative thinking, the company said "consumers are hesitant to adopt wearable companion devices with functionality that is very similar to that of smartphones."
Juniper expects that advancements in wearable technologies will trickle down to the consumer sector after having been first developed for the enterprise and healthcare.
The enterprise wearables market is expected to reach $18 billion by 2019, according to a forecast from ABI Research. "Healthcare wearables, smart glasses, and smart watches will be the dominant form-factors purchased by the enterprise and used by employees," stated ABI Research senior enterprise analyst Jason McNicol.
Cloud-based software provider Salesforce enterprise wearables initiative, Salesforce Wear, is experiencing intense demand from device makers, developers and businesses, Daniel Debow, senior vice president of Emerging Technology at Salesforce, recently told Datamation. "More hardware devices have come on board. People's mindsets have really shifted," he said.
Juniper's forecast does include a bit of bad news for makers of dedicated fitness devices like Fitbit. "Smart watches will replace fitness wearables as the most purchased wearables category by 2017," said the firm.
Pedro Hernandez is a contributing editor at Datamation. Follow him on Twitter @ecoINSITE.
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