What at first seemed like a fashion statement for those who must own the latest technology or have disposable income is turning into big business. That’s right, wearable devices are being embraced by consumers, and if we’ve learned anything from the mobile revolution it is that the consumerization of IT is real.
Some solution providers have already told me that a handful of their accounts have inquired about wearable support, integration and even security. And while it is currently a fringe business, it may just turn out to be big business. And Apple (AAPL), of course, is the one leading the charge.
“I have a few clients that are using [the Apple Watch] but not specifically for business yet,” said Raffi Jamgotchian, founder and CEO of Triada Networks, a Norwood, New Jersey-based solution provider. “It is primarily being used as a notification tool such as a quick way to see who is texting or emailing them without taking out their phone and even do quick replies,” he said.
However, Jamgotchian knows it will start creeping into the business world soon, just as other mobile devices have. The writing is on the wall.
“I was talking to one of my CEOs [recently] and he was impressed with the intelligence around responding to text messages. For example, his son had asked a question asking if he wanted to do A or B, and the phone interpreted that question and gave him A and B as options to respond back with. Siri seems to work better through the watch than with the phone, which is interesting too,” he said.
Interesting indeed. In fact, it’s like déjà vu all over again.
Research firm International Data Corp. recently released data on the amount of wearables sold in the second quarter of this year and Apple is already ranked second and closing in on market share leader Fitbit. Apple shipped 3.6 million units in the quarter, just 0.8 million units behind the 4.4 million shipped by Fitbit, according to IDC.
“Anytime Apple enters a new market, not only does it draw attention to itself, but to the market as a whole," said Ramon Llamas, Research Manager for IDC's Wearables team, in a prepared statement. "Its participation benefits multiple players and platforms within the wearables ecosystem, and ultimately drives total volumes higher. Apple also forces other vendors—especially those that have been part of this market for multiple quarters—to re-evaluate their products and experiences. Fairly or not, Apple will become the stick against which other wearables are measured, and competing vendors need to stay current or ahead of Apple. Now that Apple is officially a part of the wearables market, everyone will be watching to see what other wearable devices it decides to launch, such as smart glasses or hearables,” he said.
The proof is in the pudding. Total wearable shipment volume for the quarter rose 223.2 percent to 18.1 million units from the 5.6 million units shipped in the period in 2Q14.
"About two of every three smart wearables shipped this quarter was an Apple Watch," said Jitesh Ubrani, Senior Research Analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers, in a prepared statement. "Apple has clearly garnered an impressive lead in this space and its dominance is expected to continue. And, although Fitbit outshipped Apple, it is worth noting that Fitbit only sells basic wearables—a category that is expected to lose share over the next few years, leaving Apple poised to become the next market leader for all wearables."