Commentary

Nokia, Fitbit Make Moves On Wearables

The wearables market has been evolving, creating challenges for some of the companies in it.

Nokia just announced that it is conducting a "review of strategic options" for its wearables business, which is part of Nokia Technologies. The company has been selling hybrid smartwatches, scales and other digital health devices.

Nokia said the review may result in a "transaction or other changes."

When they first came out, wearables -- especially fitness trackers -- were a relatively big hit, since they could provide easy monitoring of various activities, such as steps taken, heart rate and floors climbed. By now, almost half (48%) of U.S. adults have experienced at least some wearable technology, according to a recent survey by Market Strategies.

Wearables makers can’t stand still, as various features expand into other devices like smartwatches. Specialized wearables are projected to account for 25% of the market within four years.

In a bid for continued relevance, wearables band market leader Fitbit last week announced it was acquiring Twine Health, a health coaching platform that helps people manage chronic conditions.

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One major issue is continued usage. Fewer than 60% of registered Fitbit devices are classed as active users in any given year, according to Juniper Research.

The types of wearables are also increasing, most notably in clothing and ear-based fitness devices. Sensors are becoming smaller and better, enabling more of them to be embedded in more places and increasing monitoring capabilities.

Whether worn on wrists or elsewhere, more wearable technology will be ending up on more consumers. How long they keep them on is still the market metric to be determined.

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