Arabian Reseller speaks to Preston Moxcey, the VP Fossil Group and GM of Misfit, about the wearables market in the Middle East
How is the wearables market shaping up in the Middle East?
Globally, the wearables market is growing explosively, and the Middle East and Africa region is set to follow suit: according to the International Data Corporation, the market surged 66% in the second quarter of this year, when compared to the last. The future of the region’s wearables market looks bright too, with forecasts projecting a compound annual growth rate of over 20% up until 2020.
Simply put, wearable devices may not quite have exploded onto the scene in the Middle East as projected by some industry quarters but, with time, they have wiggled their way into our day-to-day lives. Fitness trackers and activity monitors, for example, are now de rigueur on wrists, and sporting a smartwatch doesn’t warrant quite as many inquisitive stares as it did some time ago. Technological advancements, falling costs and style upgrades have together driven wearables out of the woodworks and into the mainstream in the region.
What sort of wearables do people today go for?
While fitness and activity trackers continue to be the most popular, higher-end devices that are able to support a wider range of features are beginning to gain ground. Initial obstacles to widespread adoption, such as limited usefulness and the lack of a strong app ecosystem, are now being tackled and overcome. Smartwatches are continuously being enhanced with new features, functions and capabilities, and the ability to display super-relevant ‘glanceable’ data is boosting their uptake.
What features do people expect in a wearable?
In addition to utilitarian factors, fashion-forward design is an important element when buying wearables – users are more likely to wear gadgets that are stylish and have aesthetic appeal. Wearables are often marketed around functionality but when making a purchase a user is quite likely to think: this may serve the purpose, but is it something I want to be seen wearing?
Another important feature is always-on functionality. If you need to take the device off, for charging or to take a shower, at some point the product ends up forgotten in a drawer somewhere. That’s why we have worked at incorporating always-on functionality into Misfit’s products – Misfit’s devices run on batteries that typically last up to six months before they need to be replaced and are water-resistant, for up to a depth of fifty metres.
Is there a huge market for premium wearable devices such as those from Misfit?
There are a lot of activity and sleep monitors on the market, but Misfit wins out because of its always-on functionality, it’s water-resistance and its style quotient. The UAE, in particular, has always had an appreciation for chic designs and a penchant for brands with exceptional craftsmanship. Additionally, Misfit products offer multi-platform experiences that do not restrict consumers in their choice of hardware. Thereby, instead of competing with smartphones, we widen the user base we can reach out to through them. We appeal to a very wide audience – we’re not just focused on die-hard sports users.
In terms of innovation and value add, what has Misfit brought to the market?
Initially, the appeal of wearable tech was limited to just tech savvy individuals. But we’re looking to evolve wearables to have mass appeal. The line between fashion and tech is beginning to blur as manufacturers such as Misfit start to fill the gap in the wearables market for technology that is both functional and fashionable. Misfit products also feature IoT integration, which marks an area of heavy projected growth. When you tap Misfit’s Ray or Shine three times, you can switch on the lights at home, play the next song on your playlist, take a selfie or make your phone ring.
Can we see any new products from Misfit in the coming months?
Typically, Misfit products are available as sports accessories and so the band is made of plastic composite. But we’re now launching products with leather bands as well. We have also launched a whole range of accessories: double-wrap leather bands, cords, necklaces and a further variety to dress up the tracker and make it more appealing to a wider group of consumers.