Will 2014 Be the Smartwatch’s Big Year?

Source: Android.com/Wear

Source: Android.com/Wear

With new initiatives in wearable technology coming from the biggest tech players in the industry, it seems that 2014 could go down as the year that wearables caught on.

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) has opened a special area of its site on which consumers can shop for wearable tech products like smartwatches and smartglasses. Amazon’s Wearable Technology store is “a one-stop shop where customers can easily discover the latest in wearable technology and research wearable devices including activity trackers, smart watches, wearable cameras, and more,” according to a press release from the company.

The site will sell wearable devices from a variety of brands including Samsung (SSNLF.PK), Jawbone, and GoPro. The site will be highly useful for those interested in the relatively new wearable tech, as it will have a “Learning Center” that offers lots of information about the products, a buying guide, and of course trusty reviews from other Amazon users. The website will give consumers ways to compare products and get suggestions based on what they’re looking for in a wearable product in order to help individuals find the right device for them.

“Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation and our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices,” said John Nemeth, Director of Wireless and Mobile Electronics at Amazon, in the press release. “We’re thrilled to bring our customers a store with the largest selection and great prices that helps eliminate the guesswork when deciding which wearable devices best fit their needs — whether that is tracking activity, staying connected through smart watches, or capturing their next adventure with wearable cameras.”

Offerings currently on the site include health monitoring products, wearable cameras, and smartwatches, and there’s also a section for devices specifically designed for children and pets.

Wearable tech is thought to be the next big frontier in mobile technology as the smartphone market becomes increasingly saturated, but wearable tech products have yet to be widely adopted by consumers. Amazon’s new resource for shopping for wearable tech could be a key way to give consumers the information they feel they need to find the option that’s right for them before plunking down the hefty sum for a smart watch.

The market for wearable tech, and smart watches in particular, is expected to grow leaps and bound in the coming years. A report from Business Insider Intelligence forecast that smart watches will represent a $9.2 billion market by 2018 with 91.6 million devices sold globally. That report said that smartwatches are likely to catch on quicker than smartglasses, as 55 percent of both U.S. and global populations wear a wrist watch. Smartwatches seem less “alien” and pose fewer concerns about interfering with daily life than smartglasses like Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Google Glass.

Google Glass is set to go on sale to the public later this year, though some are still skeptical about the device’s ability to appeal to consumers. Google continues to insist that Glass will be the next big thing, but it isn’t missing out on smartwatches, either. The company announced earlier this week that it has created Android Wear, a version of the Android operating system designed for use in smartwatch devices. Brands that will partner with Google and use Android Wear to power their wearables include Samsung, HTC, Motorola (NYSE:MSI), and Qualcomm (NASDAQ:QCOM), among others.

Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) is also expected to make its debut in the smartwatch market later this year, as several analysts have predicted the rumored iWatch will be debuted alongside the iPhone 6. Apple’s iWatch is expected to contain functions of both a smart watch and a health monitoring wristband and will run on the familiar iOS operating system.

While none of the smartwatches currently on the market have made a meaningful impact in terms of sales, smartwatches from Apple and Android could prove to be highly popular due to the fact that people are already familiar with those companies’ operating systems from using smartphones. That familiarity in addition to a resource like Amazon’s new store for wearable tech will make consumer adoption of wearables easier, and are likely to cause a huge boom in the market over the next year.

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