The key to wearable growth = standalone connectivity

Last updated: 04 October 2016

Wearables standalone connectivity

It was a huge month in the mobile and wearable world. IFA 2016 in Berlin witnessed the unveiling of numerous smartwatches and smartphones, such as the HTC One A9s and the new Fossil watches. Then, following a car singalong with James Corden, Apple CEO, Tim Cook, unveiled the iPhone 7. An updated version of the Apple Watch was also announced, which comes with a built-in GPS chip. With all these innovations, it might be tempting to see the future of wearables as an inexorable march towards mass popularity. However, the reality is that there are challenges ahead, which need to be addressed.

As our Connected Living 2025 report revealed, based on a survey of 1200 young people across the world, millennials are expecting more from wearable devices, particularly in terms of connectivity. New research suggests that wearable manufacturers might not be doing enough, which could be causing a drop in sales. The analyst firm, IDC, recently published figures showing a fall in wearable purchases. Plus, there’s widespread agreement that the market is taking longer than expected to truly take off and enter the mainstream. One reason is that early adopters are frustrated by their first experience and quickly give up using their devices.

So, how can wearable makers boost the market and ensure an explosion in sales? We think the answer lies in seamless connectivity. Research commissioned by Ericsson suggests that dissatisfaction with feeling tethered to a smartphone is a significant issue – 83% of all smartphone users expect their devices to have a form of standalone connectivity. In the digital age, users expect to turn on their smartwatch or tracker and enjoy fast access to the Internet.

As a result, certain key stakeholders are making steps towards creating a truly connected wearable. One option, recently highlighted by the GSMA, is deploying technologies like the embedded SIM to allow operators to enable access to mobile networks via wearable devices. The Samsung S2, launched at Mobile World Congress 2016, is a pioneering smartwatch, which doesn’t need to be tethered to a mobile phone to provide seamless connectivity.

Ultimately, stakeholders need to bear in mind that the consumer has all the power. If they aren’t satisfied with the user experience, they won’t use the technology. Key players in the wearable market need to develop innovative, user-friendly features, and not be too conservative, concentrating merely on protecting their position.

Let us know about your thoughts on the future of wearables and standalone connectivity by posting a comment below, or tweeting to us at @GemaltoMobile.

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