Apple has dominated the advent of new product categories the last decade. Their iPod line became very popular back in the early 2000s, the iPhone was hugely innovative, and the iPad surprised many with its success. One can’t help but ask what could possibly be next, and whether or not it will come from Apple sans-Steve Jobs. With tablets becoming a solid industry and a success for Apple (and eventually Android manufacturers), the “next big thing” could be coming any minute now.
Wearables saw their big debut in 2013. Google Glass really kicked it off, followed by several smart watches, wristbands, and other forms of wearables. Tech giants like Google and Samsung have already tried their hand with wearables, so the industry must look promising to them. With that being said, no single wearable has reached a market share worthy of being called “dominant” for the wearable industry, like the iPad did for the tablet industry in its first few years. Most pundits would speculate that the next big product category is going to come from the wearables category and it’s going to take a tech giant like Samsung, Apple, and/or Google to push wearables from the land of tech enthusiasts to the mainstream market.
I firmly believe that Apple is going to release a wearable device in 2014. Whether that be the rumored “iWatch”, something to compete with Google Glass, or something entirely different, Apple has a lot of potential if they can get the product just right. If Apple could tie in their device nicely with the whole Apple ecosystem, add in some nice software, and make a beautiful device with the Apple aesthetic, it’d sell like hotcakes.
Google is already a step ahead with their Google Glass pilot program. If Google can manage to take back all of the feedback constructively and craft a better version of the next Google Glass, we could see Google dominate. Google’s beta version of Glass was very expensive, but I could see a $200-$300 version of Google Glass really catching on in the mainstream market.
I see ads for the Samsung Galaxy Gear, but I’m not sure how sales are right now. In order for the watch to work properly, you must have one of the supported Samsung devices. While that’s not absurd of Samsung to require, it does limit the available market for the watch. Google has a much larger potential user base considering that any Google Glass works on most modern Android devices.
Of course, we could see something very innovative from another company. Perhaps a large company who we didn’t think would throw their hat into the arena, or even a smaller startup like Pebble that could disrupt the industry. Fitbit, Nike, Jawbone, and others also have wearable devices that focus mainly on fitness, but could still gain considerable traction.
Then again, there’s always the possibility that wearables will never catch on, and that another category like connected devices (internet of things) or smart TVs will become wildly popular and enter the homes of thousands of consumers. But with smartphones becoming more and more important to consumers, wearable devices are a logical step to further their functionality.