Wearable technology takes center stage in stats of the week

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The week in numbers starts with wearable technologies and the Internet of Things, but ultimately, it’s mobile technologies that make the world go round.

1. 172%: Year-on-year growth in the worldwide wearables market

Apple Watches and fitness trackers have helped to almost triple the number of wearable device trackers shipped globally in 2015, according to the International Data Corporation’s (IDC) Worldwide Quarterly Wearable Device Tracker report.

Last year, 78.1 million units were shipped around the world, a 171.6% increase on the 27.4 million devices sold in 2014.

Fitbit remained the world leader, followed by Xiaomi. The Chinese brand’s inexpensive fitness trackers (priced as low as US$11) helped to push it up the list. Apple came in third place, followed by Garmin. Samsung finished fifth.

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The triple-digit growth shows wearables are no longer the sole domain of technophiles and early adopters, but are being welcomed in the mass market, says Ramon Llamas, research manager (wearables), IDC.

As these devices are yet to fully penetrate the mass market, there is still plenty of room for growth, he adds.

Continued innovation and development will be key. Llamas notes that while historical data, like steps taken and calories burned, has been a good starting point, prescriptive data, such as what users can do to live healthier lives, coupled with applications like social media, news, and navigation, will help attract more users.

For brands, fashion and design will play important roles in adoption. As an example, look to Apple’s partnership for the Hermès Apple Watch.

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While the top five wearable devices last year were dominated by wrist-worn technology, form factors (clothing, footwear and eyewear) are also experiencing strong growth. This in turn could open up even more partnership opportunities for brands.

2. 5: 5G is the hot topic at this year’s Mobile World Congress

How do we connect all these new wearable and Internet of Things (IoT) devices to our mobile phones? It’s all about connectivity, and in the not so distant future, it will be with 5G.

Fifth generation wireless technology has been a hot topic at this week’s Mobile World Conference in Barcelona. Two of the biggest benefits to consumers and business will be speed and the ability to go beyond connecting people to people, but new ways of connecting devices.

“We live in a ‘we want it now’ society and 5G will have that dramatic reduction in latency that will delight consumers and businesses,” Gary Davis, Intel Security’s chief consumer security evangelist, told ABC News.

Those connections include automobiles, ATMs, gas pumps and industrial uses, but essentially the opportunities are limitless, Davis said. “There won’t be an industry that won’t be affected by the ability to connect at a super high speed.”

This technology is still a few years away, not until 2020 can we expect to see 5G being rolled out, according to Nokia, one of the leaders in the field.

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For the time being, 4G use continues to rise, especially in developing and emerging markets. This week the GSMA released a report showing global 4G connections in 2015 had doubled to hit the one billion mark (of the 7.3 billion total mobile connections). This was largely driven by an increase in 4G networks in developing regions. This is good news for advertisers in these emerging markets, where everything from news feeds to images and videos will load faster and better.

Combined 3G and 4G networks will account for 50% of connections in 2015, a figure set to rise to 70% by 2020.

The number of unique mobile subscribers worldwide stood at 4.7 billion at the end of 2015, equivalent to 63% of the world’s population. That will grow to 5.6 billion by 2020, (70% of the global population), with more than 90% of this growth coming from developing markets.

3. 4.77 billion: Global user base for mobile payments in 2019

While we are on the subject of mobile, Apple Pay launched in China last week. It arrives in the Chinese market as a latecomer and faces competition from well-established market leader Alipay (which holds almost 50% of the Chinese mobile payment market) and Tencent’s Tenpay (which holds 20%).

This news comes as Ovum releases figures on global mobile payment users – which are set to rise from 690 million users in 2014 to 4.77 billion users by 2019.

The forecast covers three mobile payment sectors: m-commerce, person-to-person (P2P) mobile money transfers, and mobile proximity payments. The global transaction value of mcommerce (the biggest sector) will grow from $50.92 billion in 2014 to $693.36 billion by 2019.

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In a press release, Ovum said the rise of mcommerce is being driven by the widespread adoption of increasingly powerful smartphones with larger screens. In addition, retailers are optimizing their sites for mobile shopping.

“Smartphones have become a platform that can support the whole shopping journey, from product search and discovery, through comparisons and recommendations, to payments,” said Eden Zoller, principal analyst, consumer services and payments, Ovum.

China will have the largest mcommerce user base by 2019 with 370 million mcommerce users, with transactional value worth $79.36 billion. With numbers like that, even a small share of the market gives Apple Pay a promising future in this region.

4. US$17 Trillion: the value of Asia’s ‘xcommerce’ market by 2019

Which brings us back to the value of ecommerce in Asia, and the important role of mobile.

In another report from IDC this week, come growth figures around Asia’s xcommerce market. Yes, it’s a good question, what is xcommerce?

The IDC defines xcommerce as the increasingly innovative and complex business models of changing consumer-purchasing behavior over and above traditional ecommerce models. As a mobile-first region, Asia is leading the way.

It covers on-demand services (ODS), sharing economy services, online to offline (O2O), social commerce, content commerce, new payment and logistics systems, and customer experience.

The IDC predicts xcommerce in the Asia-Pacific region (excluding Japan) will rise from around US$7 trillion in 2015 to nearly US$17 trillion in 2019.

China is at the epicenter of the xcommerce revolution, with the Indian and Indonesian markets not far behind.

O2O service providers offer a complete integration of online to offline (or vice versa), a complete customer relationship management (CRM) experience, and demand-oriented customized services for online platforms — all of which underpin the new wave of xcommerce,” the report found.

*Featured image Apple Watch Hermes

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