Just In Time? Smartwatches Could Provide Mobile Market Boost


Wearable devices could be the next blockbuster innovation in the mobile space, with some solution providers predicting the market may even start to take off by year-end.

With research firm IDC reporting slowing growth of smartphones and a recent NPD DisplaySearch report revealing that the tablet market is actually retracting, wearables could provide a mobile market boost.

NPD DisplaySearch found that tablet shipments in North America were down 13 percent year over year in in the first quarter of 2014 to 13.4 million units. By comparison, tablet shipments in North America increased 33 percent in 2013. This is the first time since 2010 that the tablet market has experienced a year-over-year reduction.

[Related: That's About The Size Of It: Tablet Market Declines For The First Time]

"I think [wearables are] a huge market, and I can almost guarantee you that 10 years from now we won't be sticking our hands in our pockets to check out our phones. That will not be the case," said Raul De Arriz, national government sales manager for Small Dog Electronics, Waitsfield, Vt., an Apple specialist. "I see this market growing immensely in many different directions. Smartwatches are just one aspect. It's going to have to refine, and refinement will have to do with the quality of the component, the ability to run well on a battery. But I see it quickly getting better just like phones did."

There is definitely an uphill climb ahead for wearables, as just 510,000 smartwatches shipped in the first quarter of this year, according to market intelligence firm ABI Research. In the same report, however, ABI predicts the market will expand greatly this year, forecasting 7 million smartwatches will be sold by year-end.

The first-quarter shipment numbers came before the release and even the official announcement of Android Wear at Google I/O late last month.

At the event, Google announced three smartwatches that will be based on the Android Wear operating system, including the Moto 360, which is expected to launch in August; the LG G watch; and the Samsung Gear Live, both of which hit stores last week.

NEXT: What's Next For Wearables