Jawbone and Fitbit lead the way, but Apple Watch is coming this week
Purchases of wearable devices are booming in Thailand, where people are concerned about fitness and tracking their health and are turning to technology to help them reach their goals.
Recently, Jawbone launched two new tracking devices, UP2 and UP3, in Thailand. This country is one of the five key markets in Asia for Jawbone. The others are mainland China, Japan, Hong Kong and Singapore, said Daniel Tan, the wearable-technology company’s managing director of Asia.
“Thailand is big enough [in terms] of market size. Thais are very open to technologies. A lot of gadgets get popular very quickly in Thailand.
“We are available in many channels, Apple’s reseller stores and consumer electronics [outlets], and some of the telecoms. We are talking to some telecoms on how to bundle our products with their packages,” Tan said.
He said the company wanted to be No 1 in Asia, but it would take six to nine months to regain lost position after the launch of UP2 and UP3. The company’s aim is that when people think about wearable products, they think about Jawbone.
Jawbone says its UP system helps people live better by providing personalised insights into how they sleep, move and eat.
“We make a platform [that] is connected to many devices. Currently, more than 2,000 apps connect to Jawbone’s platform. The company intends to make the platform [connectable with] other apps, so that Jawbone will be become the contact engine to make all these devices work for it.
“We work a lot on connecting to other apps, especially smart watches. Users can link the UP app to other apps and smart watches,” Tan said.
UP features a “smart coach” system to help people be more active, sleep better and eat healthier each day, Jawbone says. The company has maintained its design strategy of no displays.
Tan said there were three main categories of wearable devices: workout, workday (dominated by smart watches), and lifestyle. Jawbone focuses on lifestyle wearable devices, which are all about balancing exercise, sleep and eating. Lifestyle products can connect to other Internet of Things devices.
Currently, Jawbone has three products on the Thai market. UP Move is priced at Bt2,490, UP2 is Bt4,990, and UP3 is Bt7,990.
The UP2 wristband, 45 per cent smaller than its predecessor UP24, comes in the same stylish design as UP3.
UP3 is a multi-sensor activity tracker that provides in-depth information about health and fitness. It collects and analyses a wide range of biometric signals, delivering actionable insights specific to users. The distinguishing feature of UP3 is its ability to measure the resting heart rate, which is a key indicator of overall heart health.
Tan said that in the United States, Jawbone had partnered with American Express to give US cardholders the ability to “tap to pay” with the new Jawbone UP4 fitness tracker anywhere via UP app.
This partnership and product launch marks the first time consumers can use a wearable fitness tracker with an embedded NFC (near field communication) chip for Amex payments.
The UP4 features the same slim design and multi-sensor platform as the UP3 tracker, with advanced sleep and activity tracking and heart-health monitoring, in addition to enabling contactless payments.
Another wearable-device company, US-based Fitbit, recently lunched its line-up of devices including Fitbit Surge, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Charge, Fitbit Flex, Fitbit One, Fitbit Zip, and Aria Wi-Fi Smart Scale for the Thai market.
With a growing focus on personal health, fitness and well-being across Thailand, and the strong demand for mobile devices and technology, Fitbit plans to provide consumers here with a full line of trackers at affordable prices across all mobile platforms ensuring that everyone can find the right fit for their lifestyle and their goals, said James Park, chief executive officer and co-founder of Fitbit.
“Our mission is to deliver innovation. Our wearable is designed in a way that empowers consumers with greater knowledge of their overall health, while understanding that everyone’s approach to health and fitness is different,” Park said.
Fitbit devices are widely accessible on most platforms, including more than 150 iOS, Android, and Windows Phone products, as well as Mac and Windows-based personal computers.
Worldwide, the wearables market is forecast to grow by 173.3 per cent this year, with 72.1 million units shipped. Shipment volumes are expected to experience a compound annual growth rate of 42.6 per cent over the next five years, reaching 155.7 million units in 2019, according to International Data Corporation.
This year, IDC forecasts that the wearable market will ship 72.1 million units, included 39.1 million units of basic wearables and 33.1 million units of smart wearables. The basic wearable device is forecast to grow by 24.5 per cent per year through 2019, while the smart wearable is foreseen to grow by 84.1 per cent per year.
Vendors like Fitbit and Xiaomi have helped propel the market with their sub-US$100 wristbands, and IDC expects this momentum will continue throughout 2015. It also expects smart wearables, those capable of running third-party apps, to take the lead in 2016, said Jitesh Ubrani, IDC senior research analyst on mobile-device trackers.
The arrival of Apple Watch is expected to heat up the competition for all wearable vendors including Fitbit, Xiaomi, Garmin, Samsung and Jawbone. In Thailand, Apple Watch is set to be officially available on July 17.
Apple Watch, categorised as a smart wearable, will lead the mainstream market from basic to smart device. Therefore, the transition from basic to smart wearables opens up a slew of opportunities for vendors, app developers, and accessory makers, IDC says.
According to Ramon Llamas, research manager for wearables and mobile phones at IDC, the smart-wearable market is facing an emerging battleground among competing platforms. Android Wear, Tizen, and watchOS are moving ahead with improved user interfaces, user experiences, and applications.
“These will raise the expectations of what a smart wearable can do, and each platform is vying for best-in-class status. We’re not there yet, but we’re seeing the building blocks of what is to come,” Llamas said.
Previously, IDC forecast that this year, the wearable-device market in Thailand would move 3,000 to 5,000 units per quarter. Jarit Sidhu, an IDC senior market analyst of client devices, said the market would grow in the same way as smartphones and was initially being driven by basic devices, although smart wearable devices would take the lead later.
The Apple Watch is the key factor driving the growth of the smart-wearable market. This type of device types is set to dominate the market in Thailand, including watches and bands, the analyst said.
Basic wearable devices range in price from Bt3,000 to Bt6,000 while smart wearables range from Bt6,000 to Bt30,000.
“Smart wearable devices support third-party applications in the same way as smartphones differ from basic mobile phones,” Sidhu said. “The growth of the wearable-device market will be led by consumers and followed by business use.”
IDC forecasts that the wearable-device market in the Asia-Pacific region will grow at a rapid rate, with sales passing 40 million units by 2019, up from 5 million last year, and is expected to be around 12 million units this year.