Consumers wild about wearables

By Bernie Monegain
10:06 AM
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Survey suggests people can't get too much health data about themselves.

More than half of consumers are interested in buying wearable technologies such as fitness monitors for tracking physical activity and managing their personal health, according to the Accenture Digital Consumer Tech Survey 2014.

Accenture, a global management consulting, technology services and outsourcing company, conducted the online survey last October and November.

The survey of more than 6,000 people in six countries -- Australia, Canada, India, South Africa, the U.K. and the U.S. -- showed that many are also interested in buying smart watches (46 percent) and Internet-connected eyeglasses (42 percent).

{See also: Wearable device market in growth mode.]

Wearable technologies deliver a wide range of capabilities: fitness monitors track a person's heart rate and calories burned, while Internet-connected eyeglass displays enable consumers to browse the Internet, take digital photos and receive hands-free notifications.

Among the six countries, consumers in India were most interested in buying fitness monitors (80 percent), smart watches (76 percent) and Internet-enabled eyeglasses (74 percent).

"In the past year wearable technologies have emerged as the next big consumer electronics market category, particularly for health and wellness," said Mattias Lewren, global managing director of Accenture’s Electronics and High-Tech industry group, in a news release. "To capitalize on this growth opportunity, consumer electronics companies should consider investing in wearable product innovation and industrial design, and building ecosystems that connect wearables to the broader array of interactive digital networks. Every consumer is a digital consumer, and the keen interest in wearable technology provides further evidence of that."

[See also: Jawbone acquires BodyMedia for $110M.} and [Partners sends mobile data to EMR.]

Consumers crave phablets

The survey also found significant consumer interest in purchasing "phablets," an emerging category of mobile devices that combine smartphone and tablet PC functions while featuring a screen size of five-to-seven inches -- in between a traditional smartphone and a tablet PC. The survey also unveiled strong purchase plans over the next year for traditional smartphones, HDTVs, laptops and tablet PCs.

More than half of consumers (52 percent) who plan to buy a traditional smartphone in the next year indicated they would prefer a phablet. And while interest in phablets was significant, respondents also showed a strong interest in buying traditional smartphones and tablet PCs.

During the next year, for instance, 52 percent plan to purchase a smartphone and 40 percent a tablet PC. Similarly, 41 percent intend to buy a HDTV and 38 percent a laptop. Consumers' plans to buy these four types of multi-function devices – typically the most popular product categories in consumer electronics -- far exceed the percentages that plan to purchase single-function devices such as home game consoles (25 percent), Global Positioning Satellite navigation units (23 percent) and eBook readers (22 percent).

Interest highest in India

Consistent with their keen interest in buying wearable technologies, consumers in India ranked highest among the six countries in the percentages that plan to buy consumer electronics products during the next year in numerous categories. For example, 80 percent plan to buy a smartphone; more than two-thirds (69 percent) a HDTV; nearly two-thirds (65 percent) a traditional tablet PC; and almost two-thirds a laptop PC.

"India is clearly a major growth market for consumer electronics," said Lewren. "Craving more personalized digital experiences, the country's consumers rank among the world’s most willing to pay for and use consumer electronics devices -- including wearable technologies."

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