Bronwen Clune is a journalist and editor with extensive experience in startups having run her own, worked at Australia’s leading startup incubator and as digital director at a local VC fund. She’s the vice-president of the Public Interest Journalism Foundation with a keen interest in digital media and the future of journalism. She’s also a popular columnist with The Guardian.
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The death of wearables may have been slightly exaggerated
Wearables are being abandoned, at least that was the claim in a Guardian piece which said that a third of consumers were giving up on the gadgets six months after buying them.
Fitness trackers and smartwatches were found to be the main devices that were being hung up after the novelty factor wore off.
While the article has come under fire for being anecdotal, according to Belle Beth Cooper, a founder at a Melbourne-based life-tracking software company, they have found similar patterns in their research.
While doing customer development for Exist, they continually came across people who bought the devices with good intentions and then landed up abandoning them after the novelty wore off.
“It’s a bit like the gym membership factor, people join a gym hoping it will motivate them, but after a few months they stop going,” Cooper says.
It was this reason Cooper and her founder Josh Sharp set about creating an app that did more than just simply track wearers and look for insights into the data, so that people could learn more about their lifestyle.
“What’s missing at the moment is that data is not really relevant to people’s lives,” she says. “We think when you add insights then that data will become more useful.”
She says while trackers had a specific use, they had found that smartwatches had a vaguer proposition among consumers. Essentially they replicated a phone, without replacing it.
On the flip side, trackers had a specific use that a smartphone could replace. While phones could not be worn at all times, they could still generally perform the function of a tracker.
“I use the analogy of the camera on the smartphone,” Cooper says. “It’s good enough for most people, but it hasn’t killed off the DSLR for the real enthusiasts.”
Cooper says the wearable market will continue to grow.
“The early adopters are normally disappointed in tech, and that’s what we’re seeing now. But overall, we believe there is a big future in the idea of using data to gain insights into people’s lifestyle.”