Sat, Mar 07, 2015 - Page 15 News List

Apple Watch launch might boost wearable tech industry: analysts

Reuters, BARCELONA, Spain

Apple Inc’s rivals want to benefit from its magic, hoping that its long awaited new smartwatch will finally conjure demand for wearable technology that has so far generated more buzz about its potential than actual sales.

Gizmos that users wear on their bodies have yet to live up to the hype as the next big thing in technology. However, experts say the arrival of Apple’s new Watch — expected to be launched at an event scheduled for next week — could finally get consumers excited.

“If Apple is successful, it’ll create a rising tide that will lift the whole market,” said Ben Wood, a top gadget reviewer at technology market research firm CCS Insight.

His company predicts Apple will sell 20 million of its new smartwatches this year, helping spur 150 percent growth in the wearable technology sector to 75 million gadgets, rising to 350 million by 2018.

Making novelty products is one thing. Getting people to wear them is entirely another. Just ask Nike Inc or Google Inc.

Sportswear maker Nike halted work on its line of sports fitness wristband products a year ago.

By far the most high-profile failure to date has been the futuristic Google Glass, which the Internet giant quit producing in January.

Apple is to hold a mysterious event on Monday, where it is widely expected to launch its much-anticipated but pricey new watch.

While makers of conventional watches have so far mostly resisted the move to smartwatches, there are signs that brands better known for style than technology are testing the market. US brand Guess Inc launched what it described as the first fashion branded smartwatch.

Still, for now wearable smart devices mostly work by linking to a smartphone, and consumers do not seem to be lining up to buy a watch that acts mainly as an expensive remote control for a phone they have to carry in their pockets anyway.

Some experts say the technology will only really take off when the wearables can be used independently.

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