The smart capabilities can range from displaying phone call, text and email alerts to accessing stock and weather information or any fitness, sports or commerce applications -- such as heart rate monitoring, payments or ticketing.
Juniper Research has forecast that more than 100 million smart watches will be in use worldwide by 2019, with a host of premium brand launches over the next 12-18 months bringing the category into mainstream consumer consciousness.
According to the findings from the latest Juniper market study, differentiation is now shifting from hardware towards other features that allow new capabilities, such as GPS and NFC connectivity.
It argues that the functionality is likely to become standard in the next few years, particularly as Apple has offered payment and NFC capability via the Apple Watch.
They also claim that the range of functionality available means that it is unlikely that a ‘killer app’ for smartwatches would evolve.
Juniper cites the example of Fitbit, which grew to dominance in the fitness space with a mantra of ‘one size doesn't fit all’, and varying device form factor.
They argue that, given the greater scope for development in smart watches, the industry should not expect a single capability to make or break the category.
Additionally, they believe that as international vendors including Google, Apple, Sony, and LG roll out high-end products, demand for notification-based watches like the Martian Notifier will diminish, even in markets where budget pricing is the biggest purchase driver.
Hence, they says that smaller players will need to respond to increasing consumer expectations or lose further market share.
Other key findings from the study include:
- Smart watches will slowly gain more sales outlets as brands outside the technology sector, such as luxury watch maker TAG Heuer, enter the smart watch space.
- High functionality and premium branding means that the average smart watch price will remain above $200 until 2020 at the earliest.