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back to article Think wearables are the next tech boom? Cisco's numbers beg to differ

Last year, according to IDC, world smartphone shipments passed the billion-unit mark, making up more than half of a global market of 1.8 billion mobile phones. By 2018 we'll be buying 2.3 billion phones a year. By now you probably also know that plenty of folks suggesting tech giants will find The Next Giant Market by dropping …

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Silver badge

Too much smoke

The home computer brought computing into the home and allowed Joe Public access to a plenitude of possibilities.

The portable computer made it "portable", Joe Public could now take his plenitude of possibilities anywhere with him.

The portable telephone meant he could also communicate verbally whilst on the move.

The smartphone meant he could communicate and use his plenitude of possibilities whilst on the move.

The wearables: Difficult to relate them to anything other than fashion accessories or minor appendages to existing hardware. They won't actually give Joe Public anything more than he already has.

Personally I see this as a quick fad UNLESS one of them is capable of producing an interactive holographic image/screen/interface which has 7 day autonomy.

Gartner as usual are a "little overly" optimistic, they must be smoking crack again..... Cisco appear to be smoking on a very little light weed , good for Cisco.

Interesting article all the same

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Re: Too much smoke

Fair points, and you cover the costs / benefits of wearable tech.

The 'costs' (compromises) of wearable tech are fairly clear: small displays, less scope for user input, limited battery life, aesthetic concerns, size/weight constraints...

The benefits of wearable tech - taking my wristwatch as a model - is that it is always with me (should my phone run out of batteries, or I haven't taken with on the canoe trip / music festival); I can still tell the time. It is more accessible than my phone - which usually requires fumbling in my pocket to retrieve.

An added advantage, which is relevant to our population that is getting both older and fatter, is that wearble tech can be in constant contact with the body... so potentially could be used for monitering the heart rate, blood pressure, or maybe even blood sugar levels (for diabetics). It's worth noting that Sony are getting into healthcare, and Apple might be (they bought a hearing company, but maybe they bought it for IP applicable to phones, I don't know)

A piece of wearble tech has to sit in a niche (if such a niche exists) where the benefits to the user outweigh the costs. A monitoring / data logging device, for example, doesn't require a display (or traditional user input at all), so those two 'costs' can be potentially struck off the list in that context.

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Happy

Galaxy Gear

I've always liked the idea of wearable computers, and we're almost at the point where technology can provide a solution.

I got a Galaxy Gear on ebay, it's very nice and does what I want it to do. Though, I'm glad I didn't pay the RRP for a new one.

I think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.

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Bronze badge

Quite cool analysis

Don't know if it's right or not, but cool to read :) One small thing - measuring wearables by traffic isn't really fair, as I guess they're designed to be extremely light on network activity. No downloading pictures of cats in emails for them!

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Anonymous Coward

Footnote.

"*(With thanks to the late Douglas Adams)"

That's your footnote. I can't seem to find the sentence which is supposed to refer to that footnote.

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(Written by Reg staff)

Re: Footnote.

OK, it's a little obscure, but the phrase "lavishly tooled in naff brown plastic" refers to the musings of Adams in his '80s detective/fantasy novel The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul. He posits that Norse deity Thor, were he to materialise in the present day sans birth certificate, could not become a fully functioning member of modern society (but concludes that perhaps this is no tragedy).

D.A. writes: "If, to sustain for a moment the same arbitrary hypothesis, the God Thor were alive and for some reason at large in England, then he would probably be the only person in the country who did not receive the constant barrage of invitations to apply for an American Express card, crude threats by the same post to take their American Express cards away, and gift catalogues full of sumptuously unpleasant things, lavishly tooled in naff brown plastic."

Thor actually features quite heavily in the book... It's probably sacrilege to say so here, but I prefer the Gently series to HHGTTG.

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jai
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Re: Footnote.

+1 for the Gently +1

I wish he'd written more of those books, they were brilliant.

The tv show from a year or two ago was okay, but not quite there.

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>In other words, the wearables market is going to be characterised by a small handful of devices with a reasonable per-unit return (like Glass), counterbalanced by a mass of very low-value, low-margin products.

Possibly - many people had experience of early low-end touch-screen phones, and found them annoying to use compared to their previous dumb phone with buttons. I suspect that the early generations of low end 'wearables' might be so compromised as to be unusable.

>Telcos barracked for the smartphone revolution, and helped it happen in the form of handset subsidies. But with the slimmest-of-slim margins available and barely detectable user traffic, there's no reason for them to join the wearable “revolution”.

It depends on what the device does. It's not completely implausible that health insurance companies might take the place of the Telcos by subsidising heart rate loggers, for example. Of course, the economics of such a scheme means it would only applicable to a smaller market than that for smartphones.

There is small trend for people buying their smartphones outright- in part because a £300 Nexus 5 offers much the same performance and features as a £600 flagship phone from last year. This offers the user flexibility in their phone tariff, and as a bonus they are covered by the Sales of Goods Act should the unit develop a fault ("Give me a replacement or a full refund right now - don't give me any of your 'two weeks to repair' spiel or I'll report you to Trading Standards")

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" It's not completely implausible that health insurance companies might take the place of the Telcos by subsidising heart rate loggers, for example"

Up to a point. But consider the mix of interests of a big financial services business. The only part of the business that wants you to live longer is the life assurance arm (and they only want you to last to the end date on your policy). The pensions division want you to live right up to the date your pension comes into force, and then to die quickly (ideally the same day). The health insurance and earnings protection businesses don't mind you continuing to live, but it suits them that when you die, you do so promptly, with little notice and little or no hospitalisation. In net terms, the ideal financial services customer is a fat smoker, likely to die early and quickly, as they typically have conditions that lend themselves to sudden death and reduced treatment opportunities.

My guess is the only interest the wider financial services industry would have in wearable health monitors would be to write down the liabilities of the balance sheet in real time, and move the policy surpluses straight to the P&L. Who said wearable technology didn't have a use?

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Bronze badge

No Thanks

No bloody way am I strapping a gadget with a Lithium Ion battery bigger than a small button cell to my wrist and risk getting branded with apple's or anyone else's logo, given Lithium Batteries current safety record.

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i-and indeeed-watch

I'm surprised no-one has raised the spectre of Apple in this discussion. I'm wondering if there is an allegory with the 'fondleslab' market a few years back. MSFT had tried with some vendors to create a market, and was never successful. One can argue endlessly as to why, however the combination of Apple's determination to create a decent product and the semi-religious fervour with which Apple devotees simply buy their products without much critical engagement really kickstarted the fondleslab game. You can argue whether Apple really innovates or simply iterates and cherrypicks better than most, but they really could be the catalyst for the wearables industry. If they 'do an iPad' then its quite possible it'll carry this industry forward.

I'm normally wrong about everything in terms of future predictions though.

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It's a dead fish of an idea.

An Apple watch is something not even that new Q from James Bond would wear.

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