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Wearables surge in MEA

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The Middle East and Africa (MEA) wearables growth story continues unabated, with the latest figures from IDC showing that the market grew 66% year on year in Q2 2016 to total approximately 482 000 units for the quarter.
IDC’s findings indicate that shipments of basic wearables (ie., devices that do not support third-party applications) increased 79.8% year on year in Q2 2016, while shipments of smart wearables (i.e., devices that do support third-party applications) increased 40.5% over the same period.
“Fitness trackers continue to make up much of the market’s volume and are proving popular for the value for money they offer,” says Nakul Dogra, a senior research analyst for personal computing, systems, and infrastructure solutions at IDC Middle East, Africa, and Turkey. “Price points continue to fall, which is further fuelling the growth of these devices, with basic wearables accounting for 70.3% of overall MEA shipments in Q2 2016. Smart wearables are also gaining traction in the region, but uptake is not so strong as consumers don’t yet perceive much added value in opting for more expensive smart devices.”
A splurge by early adopters helped drive the initial growth for smart wearables, but IDC expects the next wave of adoption for these devices to come from value-seeking consumers or those looking to upgrade from basic wearables. “Vendors are currently undertaking efforts to improve the form factor of these devices and make them more appealing to the mass market,” says Dogra. “But there is still considerable ground to be made up in convincing more price-conscious consumers that these products have a valuable role to play in everyday life beyond fitness.”
“As with smartphones, there are numerous vendors present in the market but there is little differentiation between their products other than price,” continues Dogra. “As such, it is important for vendors to develop compelling new applications and designs for their products. For example, the launch of new products incorporated within clothing, earwear, and footwear, will help to further boost the appeal of wearables to a wider audience.”
Looking at 2016 as a whole, IDC expects the MEA wearables market to grow 33.9% year on year in unit terms. This growth will be driven by a 42.5% increase in shipments of basic wearables, while the growth for smart wearables will be a more modest 16.7%. “There is still plenty of room for the MEA wearables market to grow as penetration remains on the low side,” says Dogra. “The market has almost reached a stage where the further miniaturisation of devices will become a major challenge, so the onus lies on vendors to develop new applications, increase the use of historical data to simplify the user experience, and enable interaction between multiple gadgets in order to push the market’s growth potential further.”