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Activity trackers easily outsold smartwatches at a rate of 4 to 1 during the first quarter of 2014, with both markets expected to grow tremendously, according to the ABI Research analyst group. An estimated 10 million activity trackers will be shipped by the end of the year, and 7 million smartwatches will hit the market.
Fitbit, Garmin, Nike, and Jawbone are the leaders in the activity tracker market, according to ABI Research, as other manufacturers jump into the market.
"Activity trackers are currently the most viable consumer electronics wearable device category, because they have a clear use case that cannot be matched by smartphones, in contrast to smartphones," according to ABI. "Smartwatches will develop rapidly in 2014 and 2015, with hybrid activity tracker/smartwatches soon to hit the market, more specialized components being developed and most importantly the use case improving through a growing applications ecosystem. As the value proposition of smartwatches increases, however, the price will still need to decrease to balance with end-user expectations."
E3 2014 - I wrote a very emotional, but optimistic piece on the acquisition of Oculus VR by Facebook back in March, but one of the best guys I've met in the industry, Nate Mitchell, Oculus VR's VP of Product, has had some great words to say at E3 2014.
Mitchell spoke with Polygon at E3, where he said: "For us, we're all gamers, we're game developers, and if you look at our team, it's 90 percent industry veterans, so we have this big focus on games. We want this to be the best platform for VR games. I think, longer-term, we're all excited about the potential of everything you can do with VR, whether it's film or education or training or communication. Over time, I think you'll see more of that, but it's all really about games, and Facebook is excited about that, too".
One of the better parts of the talk, is that Mitchell said that Facebook has been both hands-off, and hands-on "in the best possible way". He continued: "Part of the Facebook deal is, 'Here's a buffet of resources, take advantage of whatever you want.' On the flip-side, they've also been super proactive in suggesting ideas. So as we've gone and said, hey, we want to bring on Jason Rubin, or we want to build these studios, they've said 100 percent, go for it".
Samsung and Pebble became early supporters of smartwatches, and that decision has paid off with both companies controlling the estimated $96 million market. Samsung has 78 percent of market revenue with its Gear smartwatch, as Pebble is in No. 2 with 18 percent revenue share.
The smartwatch market is poised to explode in popularity, as one in 5 consumers have expressed interest in the technology, according to the NPD research group. The average price of a smartwatch is $189, with prices varying from $160 up to $257 - and 25-34 year olds are most interested in smartwatches.
"The smartwatch market is poised to continue to grow in 2014," said Ben Arnold, NPD executive director of industry analysis, in a statement. "With nearly $100 million in U.S. sales in less than a year, the category is off to a promising start with just two major brands."
There are plenty of smartwatches on the market today that will give the wearer alerts for emails, texts, and calls. The problem for some people is that smartwatches are often not that attractive. A new wearable device has turned up that brings some of the notification features of a smartwatch to users who don't like the looks of a smartwatch.
The product is called Ringly and it looks like some sort of fashion ring that people would wear normally. The big difference between Ringly and normal fashion rings is that Ringly has tech inside to sync with your smartphone. Ringly can alert the wearer of smartphone app notifications, texts, phone calls, and emails. It's aimed mostly at women.
Sometimes new gadgets turn up in the strangest places before they are actually announced. A perfect example is the time when an unreleased iPhone was found in a bar after a drunken Apple employee left it on a bar stool. A report is making the rounds that a gadget writer happened to be in New York City walking around when he ran into a person testing the Microsoft Surface watch.
That is hard to believe, but not much harder than believing an unreleased iPhone could be found in a random bar. The person wearing the watch originally tried to say it was a random wristband from China before spilling the beans according to the report.
Popular electronics maker Apple is reportedly preparing to launch its own smartwatch, with sales starting in October. Partner OEMs will begin making parts starting sometime in July, and Apple wants to manufacture 3-5 million units per month. The rumored "iWatch" will use a curved OLED touchscreen and monitors health, such as calorie consumption, blood pressure, blood glucose, and sleep activity. Additional smartwatch specifications are unknown.
Following the release of Samsung Galaxy Gear watches, and other rivals jumping into the market, Apple is expected to answer back. As the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy smartphones lead the market, being able to pair smartphones with smartwatches will help extend customer loyalty.
Apple still hasn't publicly announced a device, but analysts expect a press event to be held shortly before the device debuts.
Sometimes a few of the cool products that we see each January at CES take a while to come to market. Sometimes those products hit other countries well in advance of the US and that can get annoying for Americans looking for the latest gadgets. Sony's SmartBand was one of those products that was unveiled at CES and then didn't show up.
It has finally hit the US with people interested in the fitness wearable able to purchase it right now from the Sony online store for $99. It has more features than some of the other fitness bands out there like the UP24 from Jawbone and the FitBit Flex.
Google has announced a collaboration with an American fashion designer named Diane von Furstenberg. That collaboration has resulted in a new series of frames and shades for Google Glass called the DVF | Made for Glass collection. That collection includes five new frames and eight shades.
The entire collection will be offered via the Google Glass website and Net-a-Porter starting on June 23. The shades in the collection include several colors with grey, rainbow, and brown hues. All of the shades will have the DVF logo in the corner.
We already know that Samsung is set to release its own VR headset, but now Engadget is reporting that Oculus VR is working with the South Korean electronics giant on a media-focused virtual reality headset.
Oculus VR will work on the software side of the headset, while Samsung builds the hardware. Oculus will be handing over early access to its mobile software development kit to Samsung, while it will also help with the user interface software. In exchange, Samsung will give Oculus VR early access to its next-gen OLED screens.
The deal is an interesting one, as it will propel Samsung into the VR market much quicker - and ahead of its competitors' devices, without pouring millions into R&D. Where this device will be different, is that it will use your smartphone, where it will plug into your smartphone. Samsung's upcoming VR headset won't sport its own display, instead your smartphone becomes the display.
Microsoft is gearing up to release a smartwatch that will be compatible with its Windows Phone OS, along with support for Google Android and Apple iOS devices. Using technology refined by Kinect engineers, the watch will have two days of battery life and support continuous heart rate monitoring. A product announcement and launch date have not been released, though it could be available to consumers later this summer.
Throughout much of its dominant era, Microsoft didn't put a lot of effort into cross-platform compatibility, though including support for Android and iOS makes smart business sense. Both the iPhone and Android-powered smartphones currently control the market, and excluding users would greatly hurt potential sales.
It is an exciting time for the smartwatch market, with Samsung, Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone, and other companies already deeply involved - with Microsoft, Apple, and other companies expected to release their own devices. However, continuous heart rate monitoring would be a valuable asset for Microsoft, providing a better overall health analysis of watch owners.