Wearable tech too expensive for consumer take-up, research reveals

Even though wearable technology is one of the hottest tech trends right now, consumers simply won’t go for it unless it becomes more affordable.

That’s the finding from GfK research, which polled 1600 UK and US adults in September and found that even though awareness was high, prices were too steep for serious consumer adoption.

The figures do make for interesting reading, with 7% of 16-24 year olds surveyed owning wearable technology, and 6% of the general population on board. This includes the likes of Fitbit and Nike’s FuelBand, alongside the more attention-grabbing wearable technologies like Google Glass.

The GfK research also revealed that the 16-24 age group were most receptive to the idea of wearable technology

Yet the issue comes down to perceived price costs. When respondents were told they would have to pay upwards of £200 for a smartwatch, the numbers who said they would purchase dropped from 24% to 12%.

With Google Glass priced between £400 and £600, this may prove even more of a sticking point.

The GfK research isn’t the only dissenting voice concerning wearables. Technology writer David Pogue has put on record his worry at the “social issues” surrounding the technology, calling wearable tech at “the Commodore 64 stage” at present.

He told the Star-Telegram: “I can practically guarantee you that Google Glass will not show up on everybody’s faces next year.”

The market has the potential to explode, with Juniper Research forecasting earlier this month that the smart wearable devices market will hit $19bn globally by 2018.

Yet there’s still plenty of scepticism.

Gartner’s most recent Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies puts wearable user interface technology at the peak of inflated expectations, suggesting a trough of disillusionment to come – and there’s a growing argument that while the younger generations are keenest on wearables, the technology’s pricing them out of the market.

“Our research suggests that the current price points are a barrier, restricting wearable tech to an older, more affluent audience,” commented GfK’s Johanna Martin, adding: “So while consumer awareness and interest is definitely there, we are still waiting for the launch of that must-have wearable tech device for Christmas 2013.”

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak spoke at length about smartwatches and wearable technology at his keynote presentation at Apps World Europe, telling the packed audience that he doesn’t have Google Glass yet he “drooled over it” every time he saw one.

But what’s your view? Do you own wearable technology? What have your experiences been?


If you are interested in wearables, please visit IoT Tech Expo Europe in London's Olympia, December 2-3 2015.

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