April 30, 2014
Amazon Opens Up Its Marketplace To Wearable Tech Devices
Enid Burns for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Amazon.com has set up a special store for wearable technology. The Amazon Wearable Technology store will act as a resource for wearable technology as well as feature a range of products in the category.The store will be merchandised with wearable devices such as activity trackers, smart watches, wearable cameras and other devices. Amazon plans to stock recognizable brands including Samsung, Jawbone and GoPro. The store will also feature emerging brands like Basis, Misfit, Narrative and Bionym. Categories include healthcare devices; wearable cameras; smart watches; and a category for family, kids and pets.
Amazon plans to offer a handful of exclusive products, VentureBeat reports. For example, the Misfit Bloom Necklace for use with the Misfit Shine activity tracker is available exclusively through the Amazon Wearable Technology store.
"Wearable technology is an exciting category with rapid innovation and our customers are increasingly coming to Amazon to shop and learn about these devices," said John Nemeth, Director of Wireless and Mobile Electronics at Amazon, in a corporate statement. "We're thrilled to bring our customers a store with the largest selection and great prices that helps eliminate the guesswork when deciding which wearable devices best fit their needs--whether that is tracking activity, staying connected through smart watches or capturing their next adventure with wearable cameras."
Resources help consumers learn about wearable technology and research, as well as specific products, ZDNet reports. "The store features a 'Learning Center' full of product videos and detailed buying guides, which Amazon hopes will woo on-the-fence shoppers into making a purchase. There's also an 'Editor's Corner' said to contain wearable technology industry news, device reviews and more." Wrote ZDNet's Natalie Gagliordi.
Education is key at such an early stage in the wearable technology category. "The wearables category is in its formative stages, consumer adoption to-date has been very niche, and consumer confusion over benefits and choices is relatively high," Steve Beck, founder and managing partner of the consulting firm cg42 told redOrbit. "Amazon by building the store is seeking to be a facilitator of the discovery of the wearables market to the mass consumer audience."
The wearable technology market is poised for growth, and Amazon's timing might be spot on as sales start to add up. A recent report from research firm IDC forecasts that the market is expected to grow 78.4 percent in the next four years. The market is segmented into three groups: complex accessories, smart accessories and smart wearables. Complex accessories can operate mostly on their own, such as an activity monitor or smart watch, and then report back to a Web-based account or smartphone app. Smart accessories work with IP-capable devices to operate, such as the Misfit Bloom Necklace.
Google Glass fits into the smart wearables category. While Glass is a standout in the market, competitors are starting to appear. Space on the shelf at Amazon's Wearable Technology store will help gain interest, especially if a new product gets placement in the featured categories.
A Wearable Technology store helps both the manufacturers and the retailer in this case. "I would expect the opening of a Wearables Shop on Amazon will help the development of the space to a degree, but more importantly, it helps the Amazon brand continue to position itself in a leadership position," said Beck.
While the wearable market is poised for growth, price is the only factor that might hold up sales, CNBC reports. "Will it push more consumers to actually buy and use wearables? A recent Nielsen poll found that nearly half of Americans were interested in owning one -- if only they were not so expensive and geeky-looking," wrote Keith Wagstaff of CNBC's NBC News.