2016 – The Year of the Fitness Tracker

Fitness trackers and smartwatches: different products, same market? Well, that is the view of the chairman of consumer electronics distribution Widget UK, who says that the fitness tracker sector is set to evolve even further in 2016. If it is set to progress though, I can’t help but feel the market is running away from us (the general public) before we have enough understanding of what the term wearable even means. Let alone all the different makes and models out there! If someone speaks to you about a wearable, will you understand the product they are talking about? As I understand it, the term ‘wearable’, in simple terms, is a gadget that can be worn. But then, what differentiates a fitness tracker from a smartwatch? Is it just that one tells the time in addition to counting your steps or calories burned?

I don’t think that anybody sets out to buy some wearable technology. Instead people talk about buying something that will monitor their energy expenditure, or track their sleep pattern, a heart rate monitor, or a watch to show them their messages and emails even more conveniently than a mobile phone would. It seems the idea behind us wanting to buy these is to make ourselves fitter and healthier, for convenience in the fast-paced society of today, or because our friends have one. There are so many ‘wearables’ out there though? How are we supposed to know which one would suit us best? And do we want a more affordable fitness tracker or an expensive smartwatch?

I can imagine that some brands sell easily to early adopters, and if you are someone who knows a bit about wearable technology then I’m sure you’ll get to know and love a brand and use it to its full potential. For those who don’t know much…well, I’m sure you know someone who either knows a bit about them, or owns a wearable. And this is why 2016 is set to be a big year for wearables – or for fitness trackers, more specifically. With more and more people gaining knowledge about the devices and owning them, suddenly every cross-section of the population is hopping on the bandwagon to purchase a fitness tracker!

So, that is why this year is the year of the fitness tracker – everyone knows someone who has one.

The latest figures from GfK, and other fitness tracker distributors, show that by far the best sellers in the wearable technology market are fitness trackers, retailing between £79 and £129. Many people who are wearing a device, which has all the features of a smartwatch, still describe it as a fitness tracker. The only exception seems to be for Apple and Pebble owners who continue to describe their devices as watches rather than a tracker. Market researchers describe the devices sold at the top end of the market as smartwatches, but the fitness tracker market is evolving and new devices launched this year bring the fitness tracker and the smartwatch even closer together. Watch this space as multi-functional, immediately accessible fitness trackers are propelled into the mainstream market.