Analysts at ABI Research confirm that wearable device technologies will become an integral part of enterprise mobile enablement strategies – increasing at an impressive CAGR value of 56.1% over the next five years.
As expected, the North American region will be the largest, growing at a CAGR value of 39% over the next five years. Meanwhile, the Asia-Pacific region is slated to become the second largest market, outpacing Europe by 2019 with a CAGR of 90%.
“There are cases being made for wearables in the enterprise despite the relative newness of the technology. However, which wearables are primed for enterprise usage and adoption is a more important question,” senior ABI Research enterprise analyst Jason McNicol explains.
“Wearable technology such as smart glasses and those used for healthcare are better suited for the enterprise as corporate-liable devices. Smartwatches, on the other hand, will most likely follow the trend of BYOD into the enterprise.”
More specifically, ABI Research has identified six types of wearable devices: smart glasses, cameras, smart watches, healthcare, sports and activity trackers and 3D motion trackers. Healthcare wearables, smart glasses and smart watches will be the dominant form-factors purchased by the enterprise and used by employees.
“Like any digital device supporting the enterprise, wearables will need to be secured and managed,” ABI practice director Dan Shey adds.
“Wearable use cases in field services, maintenance, training, etc., highlight the need for enterprise mobility management providers, mobile operators, enterprise application and platform vendors, system integrators, device OEMs and other enterprise mobile suppliers to add services to support wearables. Enterprise connectivity continues at a rapid pace and its benefits are only achieved when end-to-end solutions – including security and management services – support the devices and connections.”
It should be noted that ABI Research expects a total of 90 million wearable devices to ship in 2014 across multiple markets. As senior analyst Joshua Flood notes, wearable tech will be characterized by a diversity of products, although only those with clear use-cases and target audiences are likely to succeed.
“ will be a critical period for the acceptance and adoption of wearable devices. Healthcare and sports and activity trackers are rapidly becoming mass-market products,” the analyst says.
“On the flipside, wearable devices like smart watches need to overcome some critical obstacles. Aesthetic design, more compelling use cases, battery life and lower price points are the main inhibitors. How vendors approach these challenges and their respective solutions will affect the wearable market far in the future.”
According to Flood, chipset vendors are beginning to pave the way with interesting wearable reference designs that will allow non-technology OEMs and brands to quickly jump upon the wearable device bandwagon and offer diverse, innovative, unique and stylish solutions.
“While smart glasses could be the starting point moving away from today’s touchscreen smartphones to eyewear devices using a voice interface, pricing, battery life and style will all play crucial roles for market traction,” he continues.
“Due to these limitations, the enterprise sector will be the early target for smart glasses before they are ready for mass-market adoption. [We] expect more than two million smart glasses [to] ship in 2014, [with] the category forecast to grow rapidly from 2015 onwards. Mobile enabling technologies like augmented reality will play a vital part in enhancing smart glass capabilities.”
Indeed, smart glasses and smart watches will account for a relatively small segment of the wearable device market in 2014, with medical, wellness and sports and activity wearable devices expected to provide the bulk of wearable device shipments this year.
“Activity trackers will continue to be the most popular wearable device as people carefully monitor their activity levels and energy output,” Flood concludes. “Concerns around weight management and even obesity are the prime drivers behind this wearable device type. The collection and analysis of the captured personal performance data through associated websites and their communities is also a crucial element in building out the use-case.”