WEAR TECH

SMART WEAR­ABLES ARE FI­NALLY TAK­ING OFF

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Ba­sic fit­ness track­ers aren’t do­ing it for con­sumers like they used to. Now we’re all about de­vices that can tell us how to im­prove our lives. World­wide ship­ments of wear­able de­vices reached 26.3 mil­lion units in the third quar­ter of 2017, an in­crease of 7.3 per­cent year over year, ac­cord­ing to an IDC re­port re­leased Thurs­day. But the mar­ket also showed a ris­ing in­ter­est in smart wear­ables, or de­vices that can run third­party apps, and a wan­ing taste for ba­sic wear­ables, which don’t run third-party apps.

Smart de­vices like the Ap­ple Watch are help­ing boost growth in the wear­ables mar­ket.

In Au­gust, IDC re­ported that the sec­ond quar­ter of 2017 was the first time that ba­sic wear­ables de­clined, while ship­ments of smart­watches, such as the Ap­ple Watch and de­vices run­ning An­droid Wear, grew more than 60 per­cent.

Smart wear­ables haven’t al­ways done so well. The mar­ket de­clined more than 50 per­cent in the third quar­ter of 2016, IDC re­ported last Oc­to­ber. But re­cent num­bers in­di­cate a con­tin­u­ing pos­i­tive shift for smart de­vices.

Fit­bit and Xiaomi led the mar­ket, tied for first place. Ap­ple, which landed in third place, in Septem­ber re­leased the third it­er­a­tion of its Ap­ple Watch, which fea­tures cel­lu­lar con­nec­tiv­ity for the first time.

IDC se­nior re­search an­a­lyst Jitesh Ubrani said con­sumers are grav­i­tat­ing to­ward to­day’s smart wear­ables, which have more sen­sors on them and are get­ting more so­phis­ti­cated. The Ap­ple Watch, for ex­am­ple, serves as more than just a fit­ness tracker: Siri can re­mind you about your next ap­point­ment or tell you what the weather will be.

“[Con­sumers] don’t want their de­vices to just tell them how many steps they’ve taken,” Ubrani said. “They want a de­vice that can tell them how to im­prove their lives.”

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