Are hearables the next tech rush?
Samsung has filed a trademark of the word “Bean” for what appears to be a next generation hearables device. The primary application for the device is described as earphones, but the requested trademark applies to a device that includes software tracking distance, speed, time, heart rate calories burned and the activity level. In other words, everything we’ve come to expect from an activity tracker today.
The NPD Take:
- Adoption of activity trackers is stagnating, if not dropping slightly, as the adoption of smartwatches increases. Putting a sophisticated activity tracker into earphones will reshape the market and lead to a fresh level of demand and interest we expect.
- The hearables market is an important one to win: the company that controls the consumer’s hearing potentially controls the intelligent agent that these consumers start to depend on. And that, as we explore in the Evolving Ecosystem Report is a fundamental shift in technology’s status quo.
A Smartwatch OPPOrtunity
As was widely expected, OPPO announced its first smartwatch this past week. With a design that is rather familiar – yes it looks quite similar to an Apple Watch – the OPPO Watch has built-in cellular, all the usual fitness and activity tracking features and has an operating system that is based on Android (not Wear OS) with OPPO creating its own wearables OS layer. Pricing looks set to start at around $200 which positions it very competitively considering the array of sensors that it offers.
The NPD Take:
- The decision to build its own wearables OS is an interesting one, but is really an extension of what the major OEMs do on the smartphone side of the business already. It’s clearly a strategy to try and build more uniqueness for the OPPO brand, potentially offering tighter ties to its own smartphones. Of course, it’s also fair to point out that since OPPO is a Chinese brand, there will be some wariness about leaping too close to Google (with Wear OS) in case OPPO hits the same issues that Huawei incurred.
- Well priced and looking like an Apple Watch: that makes for a compelling combination for Android smartphone users and the watch should appeal to the lower income households that have slowed in adopting smartwatches to date.
When wearables meets gaming?
Adidas tweeted some hints that it is working with Google on a new Jacquard product (the product concept from Google’s ATAP team that brought us the smart Levi’s jacket). While Adidas is being rather coy (for a few more days) about what the new item is, there appears to be an interesting twist: the tweeting include logos for Adidas, Jacquard by Google, EA and FIFA, the highly popular soccer game from EA. Could the three companies have worked out how to make smart clothing more interesting than just replicating what an activity tracker can do? This week should tell us more as Adidas is promising to spill a few more details in a couple of days.
The NPD Take:
- Wearables as a clothing extension has not become mainstream (to put it very mildly). Sure, there are a few sensor-based solutions out there for the very serious athletes, but nothing for the average fitness Joe, or for the FIFA game player. Anything that can boost the market’s imagination to drive a next generation of innovation should be a good thing.