Digital Health

How the Fitness Tech Market is Overcoming Challenges and Continuing to Grow

by Harry Wang | Aug. 3, 2015

Ownership of fitness tracker devices in the U.S. grew from about four million users at the beginning of 2013 to an estimated 15 million by the end of 2014, according to research from Parks Associates. The firm defines connected fitness trackers as fitness trackers with embedded wireless connectivity protocols such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC and ANT+. This fast-growing market has already attracted more than 50 brands, with Fitbit, a CEA member and CES exhibitor, enjoying a substantial lead in market share due to its first-mover advantage and a balanced portfolio of well-designed products.

CEA’s industry forecasts predict shipments of fitness activity bands like Fitbit (wearable devices that use sensors to measure or track movement, activity levels and/or certain vital signs) in 2015 will rise 19% to 15.6 million units.

As the connected fitness tracker market grows, expect competition to mount not only from within but especially outside the market from other devices including smartwatches and smartphones/apps. For example, some customers might not see the need to buy a separate fitness tracker device if they already have a smartphone or smart watch. Most smartphones already support fitness tracking via built-in accelerometers and access to thousands of fitness tracking apps. These customers may feel that a smartphone with a fitness app is all they need.

However, CEA market research shows consumers endorse variety and options when it comes to technology solutions. So while fitness trackers are ascendant today, expect these devices to part of a mosaic of solutions addressing health and activity monitoring. In addition, while fitness is the marketing focus today, the positioning of these products is already shifting to emphasize other measurements like sleep monitoring/tracking.

For example, most high-end fitness trackers have incorporated basic sleep tracking functions, but this feature has begun to find its home in mid-tier and low-end devices as well. On the market, 40% of fitness trackers have built-in sleep tracking features and among high-end models, more than 90% have integrated this feature.

Steve Koenig, Sr. Director of Research, CEA, will explore opportunities for care providers and payers to leverage consumer interest in wearables at the second-annual Connected Health Summit: Engaging Consumers, where he will participate in the session "Integrating Wearables for Consumer Care" along with executives from ARM, iHealth Labs, Lumo Body Tech and the National Sleep Foundation. The executive summit, hosted by Parks Associates, will take place on September 9-10 in San Diego, Calif., and will feature keynotes from AT&T, Cerner, CVS Health, Humana and Kaiser Permanente.

Harry Wang

Harry Wang

Senior Director of Research

Harry Wang oversees Parks Associates’ mobility and apps research, which covers mobile/wearable devices and services, apps and APIs, and mobile commerce/marketing, payment, and connected car industries. He is also the founder and lead analyst of Parks Associates’ digital health research program since its inception in 2006. He and his team cover emerging health technologies, applications, and services in areas such as chronic/preventive care, independent living, wellness and fitness, and virtual/convenience care.

Harry has published more than 40 industry reports and white papers and presented his mobility and digital health research at numerous industry events including CES, Mobile World Congress, CTIA, Open Mobile Summit, World Health Congress, the American Telemedicine Association Annual Trade Show, and Parks Associates’ CONNECTIONS™ and Connected Health Summit conferences.

Harry earned his MS degree in marketing research from the University of Texas at Arlington. He also holds an MBA degree in finance from Texas Christian University and a BA degree in international business from Guangdong University of Foreign Studies, P.R. China.

Industry Expertise: Digital Health Products and Services, Portable and Mobile Access Platforms and Applications, Digital Imaging Products and Services

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