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Wearables set to take off

30 May 2014, 08:30 Duncan Alfreds

Cape Town - This year is the one where wearable technology will take off, a report by Deloitte says.

Deloitte's Global TMT Predictions says that 2014 will see a surge in wearable technology to 10 million units.

"Our report details many watched and often contended trends in the industry. While there has been much uncertainty around wearables, we predict that consumer interest will lead to a lucrative market with $3bn in sales in glasses, watches, and fitness bands," said Mark Casey TMT Industry Leader at Deloitte.

Wearable technology has attracted the attention of manufacturers looking to expand as the market for smartphones in developed countries flattens.

According to research firm Gartner, smartphone sales totalled 968 million units in 2013, and now account for 53% of all mobile devices sold.

Phablets rising

However, the engine of growth for smartphones has been developing markets where people have been turning to the devices to connect to the internet.

"This increasing contribution of smartphones was led by growth in Latin America, the Middle East and Africa, Asia/Pacific and Eastern Europe, where smartphone sales grew by more than 50% in the fourth quarter of 2013," said Gartner.

As the smartphone growth in North America and Western Europe cools, manufacturers are turning to wearable technology that will measure biometric data like heart rate, sleep patterns and blood pressure.

But wearable devices face challenges on data security and user adoption. Google is expected to launch the consumer version of its Glass computer eyewear this year.

Deloitte expects wearables to generate revenue of $3bn in 2014.

The company also predicts that tablets will be overtaken by phablets or larger screen smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note and Nokia Lumia 1520.

"But after initial rapid consumer success, 2014 may mark a 'peak phablet' year, as only a (sizeable) minority of smartphones users will want to handle such a large device," Deloitte said.

According to the NPD Group, sales of tablets were down 5%, dropping from 59 million to 56.3 million units. Apple's iPad was particularly hard hit, while Lenovo and Asus saw significant jumps.

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