Wearables Week In Review

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Week In Review

OnePlus Watch

After years of speculation and rumor, OnePlus has finally launched a smartwatch. Priced at just $159, this is no Apple Watch imitation, and instead sports a sleek, circular design. The device comes with the usual array of fitness features including 110 workout modes, GPS and water/dust resistance, not to mention sleep monitoring, blood saturation and heart rate. In other words, the usual table stakes for any self-respecting smartwatch. It also includes internal storage for up to 500 songs which is useful since the OnePlus Watch does not include cellular connectivity. That, frankly, is a head-scratching miss for the company. Additionally, the watch is not Wear OS based, but rather uses its own custom OS.

The NPD Take:

  • The decision to not use Wear OS is not as big a miss as it seems. A companion app for Android and – to come – iOS will ultimately mean the watch can work with any smartphone, although there are hopefully some hidden gems for OnePlus smartphone loyalists
  • The lack of cellular connectivity is a bigger miss. We expect that 2021 will be the year for cellular-connected smartwatches and our research shows that wearable users with an active cellular connection are far more engaged (and therefore more loyal) with the device. Not to mention that a cellular version would have allowed OnePlus to sell via the carrier stores, which would have significant benefits.


Rough and tough Apple Watch?

According to Bloomberg Apple is considering launching a more rugged version of its Watch, with a launch either late this year, or next year. Such a product would expand Apple’s market potential (which is already broad) into a wider range of sports, particularly watersports, where the current Watch is often considered not durable enough to risk wearing. Of course, the rumors could come to naught: it’s not the first time Apple has considered such a product...

The NPD Take:

  • The rumor alone should be enough to concern Garmin and Suunto, which live and breathe the rougher, tougher environments, such as hiking or watersports. As such, it’s time for these companies to consider upping their own game, expanding into more cellular-focused devices, particularly as rougher and tough sports typically mean leaving your smartphone behind.
  • It’s a tough call for Apple, and there’s still a high probability that nothing will come from this rumor. On the one hand, such a device would open up new sales opportunities for Apple and give current customers a reason to upgrade (or even own a second device for specific use cases). On the other hand, “rough, tough and durable” is hard to pull off without some significant esthetic compromises… and Apple has always demonstrated an “elegance-first” approach to its products.

Tracking your Tracker?

Fitbit (now part of Google) and Tile have partnered up, adding Tile-like functionality to Fitbit’s Inspire 2. The new functionality allows you to locate your Fitbit gadget via the Tile app is you have misplaced it. The feature is free, but adding a Tile Premium subscription gives you smart alerts and other extras (such as an alert that you have left the house without your tracker on).  

The NPD Take:

  • It has to be said… the whole purpose of a fitness tracker is that you wear it the whole time which means you really shouldn’t need a Tile-feature. Having said that, you do, of course, need to charge the gadget occasionally and a quick reminder that you should remember to put it back on is not necessarily a bad thing. After all, wearable churn begins when you realize you haven’t worn your device for a while and all your steps and other metrics are missing a chunk.
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