Will 2013 Being the Wearable Device Boom?

There’s a lot of room still open in the wearable technology industry, and app developers could be preparing to produce the next generation of apps for the up-and-coming market.

So far, most wearable tech products are focused on tracking users’ health and activity. Nike (NYSE:NKE) has a small watch-like device called the FuelBand that can keep track of exercise and distances ran and walked. The FuelBand also doubles as a watch, but it relies on a smartphone to actually display a lot of the data it collects.

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Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and Samsung (SSNLF.PK) are both reported to be working on smartwatches of their own. Though Apple has been very secretive — as always — and hasn’t actually announced the already much-anticipated iWatch, Samsung stated in March that the company would be developing a smartwatch. These devices would likely function more like a smartphone, but would have to be optimized for the smaller screens. Juniper Research has estimated that the market for wearable devices like this could reach 70 million device sales a year by 2017 — the estimate for this year is only 15 million sales — and IMS Research suggested the market could be worth $6 billion by 2016.

Although watches are popular concept as far as wearable devices go — and perhaps an easier device to make — not all makers are leaning in that direction. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) has already begun what is essentially a trial- or beta-release of its smart glasses, called Google Glass.

The new types of devices open up all sorts of opportunities for developers to make new apps that utilize the unique features inherent in the different types of devices. Companies like Evernote see great potential in the technologies. A version of Evernote’s note-taking app incorporated into Google Glass could be a great product for quickly taking a picture and then adding note information to it.

If the wearable devices take off and sell 40 million units in the next 5 years, it could be worth $800 million to developers. Given that consumers on average spend $10 a month on apps for their iPhones or iPads, apps for wearable devices could conceivably rake in $400 million, and advertising could double that amount.

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There’s still a lot of work to be done. Google hasn’t released a commercially available version of Google Glass yet, and neither Samsung nor Apple have even shown off a smartwatch that they plan to later sell. Announcements from these company have made it sound likely the products could be released late this year, meaning 2013 could be the year of wearable technologies.

You can follow Mark on Twitter (@WallStMarkSheet) for the latest industry news.

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