Apple ‘s original iPhone was unveiled by Steve Jobs the same week as the event exactly a decade ago and the worry is that the industry’s most overhyped gadgets are failing to establish a similar connection with consumers. “We are just not seeing huge swings of growth anywhere,” says Ben Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies. “We’re really not going to see a category that is a true ‘hockey stick’, and a long sustainable one, like the ones we’ve seen with phones and PCs.” It is a puzzle that even Apple itself has not yet been able to solve. The iPad saw rapid growth soon after its introduction in 2010 but sales have declined year-on-year since the peak in 2013. New hardware such as Apple Watch and its TV set-top box were not enough to offset the iPhone’s decline last year as the smartphone market has slowed. Hype around the Apple Watch when it was launched in 2014 set expectations racing that wearable technology was the next hot market, attracting established players including Samsung , Huawei and Motorola as well as start-ups such as Pebble. Now, however, analysts are slashing their forecasts for wearables, as some manufacturers bow out of the market altogether. Pebble’s main assets were snapped up by Fitbit in a fire sale while Motorola has said it has no near-term plans to launch another smartwatch, saying wearables “do not have broad enough appeal”. Ahead of the holiday sales season, researchers at IDC found the wearables market grew just 3.1 per cent in the third quarter, with basic, low-cost fitness trackers outpacing more sophisticated smartwatches. James Park, chief executive of Fitbit , which is the market leader by sales, is more optimistic about the wearables industry. “Our point of view is there is room to further penetrate the market,” he says, pointing to Fitbit research that shows while 66 per cent of US adults who own a smartphone are interested in fitness, only 15 to 20 per cent own a wearable tracker.
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