Wearables Awareness High, Pricing Remains An Issue

Google made a splash this week announcing Android Wear, a version of its mobile operating system geared specifically for wearable technology, starting with smartwatches made by Motorola and LG. The move follows a recent wave of wearable product announcements or rollouts from Samsung, Sony, and Huawei, among others.

These behemoths are tripping over themselves to capitalize on what they expect to be the next growth market for consumer electronics and platforms for personalized digital services and marketing. But what about actual consumers? How many people have you seen (outside CES or SXSW) walking around with Google Glass?

The good news for manufacturers, according to a new Nielsen survey, is that 70% of consumers are already aware of “wearables," and about 15% currently use wearable tech in their daily lives. So far, that means they mainly own a fitness band (61%) or a smartwatch (45%). Another 17% have some type of mHealth devices.

The majority of wearable owners are young, with nearly half (48%) between the ages of 18 and 34, and most consider themselves "early adopters" of technology. They’re also higher income, with 29% making over $100,000.

When it comes specifically to smartwatches, owners say they’re mainly looking for functionality (81%) and comfort (79%), while fitness band users rank accuracy (70%) and battery life (64%) as the most features. Durability was prized highly by owners of both types of devices, at 82% and 73%, respectively.

Young, affluent tech enthusiasts are outfitting themselves with wearable devices, what about everyone else? Nielsen’s Connected Life Report found nearly half of Americans expressed an interest in buying wearable tech in the near future. But there’s the cost issue: 72% said they whish wearables were less expensive.

Another barrier could be fashion, with 62% interested in products beyond wristbands and watches, and 53% hoping for devices that look more like jewelry. Smart earrings? Or a smart necklace? Well, there is the smart toothbrush for the hygiene-minded.

The findings were based on a survey of 3,956 adults who were either current users of connected Web technologies, or non-users with high interest. Participants completed an online, self-administered survey in early November 2013, and the sample includes 2,313 people interested in connected-wearable technology.




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