Smart wearables sell as consumers ride tech

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Smart wearables are gaining traction in China as more and more tech-savvy consumers are willing to pay for such gadgets to embrace a more convenient and tech-driven life.

In face of the COVID-19 pandemic, a rising number of consumers, stuck indoors due to restrictions on outdoor movement, had to exercise at home. So, they bought digital bands to track fitness data.

“I now wear a small fitness band almost all day. Not only can it help me to track fitness data but it also monitors my health data, including sleep, heartbeat and blood pressure,” said Li Wenqiang, a 28-year-old financial clerk in Beijing.

Smart watches for kids are also becoming popular as they offer features like fancy voice-activated wireless earbuds. Technological advances have enriched wearables’ functions and enhanced their appeal.

Last year, 99.2 million wearable devices were shipped to local markets across China, up 37 percent year-on-year, according to market research company International Data Corp.

Jitesh Ubrani, research manager for IDC’s mobile device trackers, said the rise of smart, voice-activated virtual assistants in home appliances and phones has increased demand for wearables that can connect with these assistants.

“The wearables market is well on its way to becoming a mass-market device category rather than one that primarily caters to health and fitness,” Ubrani said.

Surging demand is also prompting Chinese tech giants Xiaomi Corp and Huawei Technologies Co to foray into international markets for new growth engines.

Xiaomi launched its next-generation fitness tracker called the Mi Band 4 last year. Featuring a nearly 40-percent bigger display compared to its predecessor, the gadget supports Xiao AI voice assistant that can be used for controlling Xiaomi’s IoT, or internet of things, products.

According to a report by Gizmo-China, the Mi Band 4 is said to be smashing sales records in Japan after its launch in the country. The smart band became the No 1 wearable in the activity tracker category on e-commerce platform Amazon Japan.

“Several years ago, tech giants jumped the gun before the hardware was able to catch up with the initial design of smart wearables, triggering weaker market results than the industry had expected,” said Xiang Ligang, director-general of the Information Consumption Alliance, a telecom industry alliance.

“But as technology advances, some problems are quietly going away, and people are increasingly willing to accessorize their smartphones. This is happening not only in China but globally,” he said.

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