It seems the wearables market is finally generating the fashionable momentum it needs to succeed. We now live in a world where design in every aspect of our lives matters, but nowhere in tech does a design-first approach need to be taken more seriously than in the wearable category.
Luxottica’s recently announced partnership with Google Glass – particularly for the Ray Ban and Oakley brands, and the fitness category (of course, done by Nike) are making good strides in both style and function. However, it is the smartwatch category that is believed to have the largest market cap.
“Many look at the smartwatch as the next tablet, a device that will define its own category and alter the pace of the entire mobile industry,” BI Intelligence analyst Tony Danova wrote in a report published last fall, also predicting a $9.2 billion market in four years.
Although the smartwatch story is set to explode this year, there is no clear market leader. In addition, the traditional watchmaking industry has seemingly written off the possibility of wading into connected waters.
The buzziest new devices are activity trackers and watches that wirelessly connect with smartphones. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear is the most readily available device on the market. At this point, it is still speculation that Apple could launch its eagerly awaited smartwatch, preemptively dubbed iWatch, this year.
The other entrants are making slow progress, some notable names include:
- ConnecteDevice of Hong Kong (Cogito brand)
- MyKronoz from Geneva
- Pebble Technology
- I’m Watch
MyKronoz in particular is an interesting competitor to what will look to be the big two: Samsung and Apple. The company is Geneva based, which is a city whose soul is in watchmaking. Perhaps the most compelling feature is its entry price point of $69, which is comparable with Swatch’s (the leader in watches). The results at My Kronoz are good. The company aims to ship 500,000 units this year, up from 100,000 the previous year.
“We felt that the Swiss watch industry was clearly not venturing into connected watches” –Boris Brault, ceo MyKronoz
Of course, the traditional watch industry would agree: “The watch communicates, whereas the smartwatch informs. It’s totally different.” Jean-Claude Biver, president of the watches division at LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton recently mused to WWD.
The wearable category is shifting from the world of tech to the world of fashion, and it’s time we in the fashion and retail industries educated ourselves. Wearables is not sitting on the innovation sidelines any longer – they will quickly becoming truly relevant for the early adopter.
 Diderich, Joelle. 2014 March 27. Smartwatches Gain Steam. WWD via http://www.wwd.com/accessories-news/watches/smartwatches-gain-steam-7617758/