TIME Apple

Apple Is Now the World’s Second-Biggest Wearables Maker

Apple Watches on display in Madrid, Spain on June 26, 2015.
Pablo Cuadra—Getty Images Apple Watches on display in Madrid, Spain on June 26, 2015.

It's catching up on Fitbit

The term “wearables”—as in wearable technology, the next evolution of mobile electronics—has been on the lips of technologists for some time. It’s supposed to be the future—an $80 billion market, some estimate.

The potential of this nascent market has been rather hard to quantify. (So has the definition. Smart watches? Sure. Glasses? Perhaps. “Hearables“? Sure. Clothing? Well…) But a new IDC report shows that a trend line is emerging.

According to the market researcher, the worldwide wearables market grew 223.2% in the second quarter of 2015, as measured by total shipment volume across all vendors. (That figure: 18.1 million units, up from 5.6 million unit in Q2 2014.)

Bigger news: Apple is now the number-two vendor behind Fitbit.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company shipped 3.6 million units in the second quarter of 2015, “just 0.8 million units behind Fitbit’s 4.4 million units.” Apple has been mum on its Apple Watch sales, so this is rather interesting. (And squares with what Best Buy CEO Hubert Joly said during the retailer’s latest earnings call.)

To give you a sense of Apple’s impact on the category, consider that two of every three “smart wearables,” in IDC parlance, shipped this quarter were Apple Watches. That’s both affirming for Apple, which has a lot riding on its latest major device, and Fitbit, which has managed to beat back Cupertino’s competition despite only selling wearable devices with more basic functionality.

IDC believes Apple will eventually be the wearables market leader. That’s not a surprise, though the dark horse in all this is Samsung, which has demonstrated in smartphones that a quick follow can be just as competitive as a category-defining product. (Even though, it should be noted, Samsung has been selling such devices for far longer than Apple. Lenovo-owned Motorola, too.)

The breakdown:

1.) Fitbit. 4.4 million units shipped in 2Q15. 24.3% global market share. Up 159% from the same quarter a year ago.

2.) Apple. 3.6 million units shipped in 2Q15. 19.9% global market share. No YoY growth figures available because it wasn’t selling wearables a year ago.

3.) Xiaomi. 3.1 million units shipped in 2Q15. 17.1% global market share. No YoY growth figures available because it wasn’t selling wearables a year ago.

4.) Garmin. 700,000 units shipped in 2Q15. 3.9% global market share. Up 40% from the same quarter a year ago.

5.) Samsung. 600,000 units shipped in 2Q15. 3.3% global market share. Up 119% from the same quarter a year ago.

One catch to all this? Another recent report from Argus Insights suggests that consumer interest is slowing for wearables, sliding precipitously from the 2014 holiday season. A seasonal cycle like other consumer electronics, unhappiness with the products on the market, or something deeper? We’ll find out.

This article originally appeared on Fortune.com

TIME Video Games

The Fallout 4 Pip-Boy Replica Won’t Work With These Phones


Anything over 6 inches is a no-go

The Fallout 4 limited edition, honking big, bona fide replica Pip-Boy won’t work with the iPhone 6 Plus, in case you’re rocking Apple’s 6.22-by-3.06-inch phablet.

Mind you, Fallout developer Bethesda’s $120 not-so-smartwatch, modeled after the gigantic arm-computer players wear in the series, still looks like something a Ghostbuster might strap on — the antithesis of fashion feng shui, but kind of cool anyway. It’s for diehard fans of the upcoming post-apocalyptic free-for-all, which is to say, probably not you.

But even if you are secretly jonesing to cosplay one of the game’s survivors, you’ll need a phone smaller than 6 inches to get the thing to actually do something recognizably Pip-Boy-like via Bethesda’s companion iOS and Android app. The list of compatible smartphones includes all models of the iPhone from 4 until the iPhone 6. You can apparently insert foam to jury-rig a snug fit for other devices, but the top-end size to jam a phone into the Pip-Boy’s frame is 6 inches. That, among others, means no to the Huawei Ascend Mate 7, no to the Nokia Lumia 1520, and definitely no to Sony’s monstrous Xperia Z Ultra.

The Pip-Boy is essentially a green-screen gauntlet, an old-school IBM mainframe screen you clap to your arm. In the game, it’s the interface to all the fiddly roleplaying minutia like characters stats and inventory. It’s also a pretty slick portable radio, say you want to listen to the Ink Spots croon something ironic as you probe the game’s post-nuclear mutant-scape. The limited edition replica version is mostly fan service most likely to grace display shelving. But if you really want your second screen experience served on your forearm (and you managed to snag one of the things before they sold out), bear in mind it’s not phablet-friendly.


You’ll Need a Prescription to Get Google’s Cool New Wearable

It will take your pulse and track the environment — but you can't have one.

Google’s new wearable is something most people won’t get the chance to wear. Google X, the part of the company that innovates new technology, says the wearable will be used primarily as a health research tool. This device is to become “a medical device that’s prescribed to patients or used for clinical trials,” says Google’s Andy Conrad.

TIME the big picture

Here’s Why Fitness Trackers Are Here to Stay

Fitbit Inc. Chief Executive Officer James Park Interview
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images James Park, co-founder and chief executive officer of Fitbit Inc., speaks during a Bloomberg Television interview in San Francisco, California, U.S., on Friday, Aug. 22, 2014.

Doctors and insurers love them

After Fitbit held an explosive IPO last week, some observers asked if the wearable health movement is sustainable, or just a flash in the pan. I’ve been studying the market for some time, and I believe most signs point to wearable health tracking having serious long-term potential. In 2014, 90 million of the devices were sold, and demand continues to be strong. The folks at eMedcert have collected some more interesting data points as well:

  • The annual smart wearable healthcare market volume will grow from $2 billion in 2014 to $41 billion in 2020, a compound annual growth rate of 65%. (CDW Healthcare)
  • Over 80% of consumers said an important benefit of wearable tech is its potential to make healthcare more convenient (PwC)
  • 68% of consumers would wear employer-provided wearables streaming anonymous data to an information pool in exchange for lower health insurance costs. (PwC)
  • The wearable band market grew by 684% on a worldwide basis in the first half of 2014 compared with the first half of 2013. (Canalys)
  • Today, 1 in 5 American’s own some type of wearable technology. (PwC)

When Fitbit, Jawbone and other health wearables came out, many viewed them as passing fads. But they struck a real chord not only with those who regularly exercise, but mainstream consumers too. In a recent New Yorker article by author and humorist David Sedaris, he chronicled his love/hate affair with his Fitbit. His tongue-in-cheek commentary chronicles his obsession with having to continue to beat his step record:

“I look back on the days I averaged only thirty thousand steps, and think, Honestly, how lazy can you get? When I hit thirty-five thousand steps a day, Fitbit sent me an e-badge, and then one for forty thousand, and forty-five thousand. Now I’m up to sixty thousand, which is twenty-five and a half miles. Walking that distance at the age of fifty-seven, with completely flat feet while lugging a heavy bag of garbage, takes close to nine hours—a big block of time, but hardly wasted.”

Perhaps the most important thing that Fitbit and other wearables have done is bring the importance of physical activity to the forefront. Using a Fitbit or similar device makes monitoring one’s health part of a lifestyle. My Apple Watch, for instance, has a feature that reminds me to stand up and walk around once an hour. Doing so is becoming second nature to me now, while in the past I would sit and write for hours on end, never even leaving my chair unless I had to use the restroom.

Dedicated health wearable devices that monitor your steps, calories burned and more have become cheap enough — under $100 in many cases — that many more people can now afford them. Smartwatches, meanwhile, are on track to become an even more important category, as they include health-monitoring features while adding more versatility to the overall wearables market. However, it will be the health industry that makes wearables go truly mainstream.

According to Orange Healthcare, 88% of physicians want patients to monitor their health parameters at home. Health insurers, meanwhile, are making wearable health monitoring a key tenet of their plans. As one HMO executive told me, it’s much cheaper to keep a person healthy then it is to make them better once ill. By 2018, 70% of healthcare organizations worldwide will invest in consumer-facing technology, an IDC Health Insights report found. And CDW Healthcare says wearable technology could drop hospital costs by as much as 16% over the course of five years, while remote patient monitoring technologies could save the healthcare system $200 billion over the next 25 years.

Lowering health care insurance premiums and cutting hospital costs will provide the real fuel for health wearables’ fire. Obamacare has put healthcare on the front page, insuring that people, at least in the U.S., will become more health conscience. And if health wearables are prescribed or recommended by people’s doctors or health insurers, more Americans will start using them. That’s why the health wearable tracking market is here to stay.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

TIME Apple

Why It’s Too Soon To Break Up With The Apple Watch

Toronto Blue Jay player Jose Bautista Tries On Apple Watch At The Apple Store Eaton Centre Toronto
George Pimentel—WireImage A detail view of the Apple Watch while Toronto Blue Jay player Jose Bautista Tries it on at the Eaton Centre Shopping Centre on April 14, 2015 in Toronto, Canada.

Big improvements are just around the corner

Over the past few weeks, several articles about people giving up on their Apple Watch have popped up across the web. The breakup reasons range from the users not finding the device compelling or useful enough to frustration with the Watch not living up to their expectations.

While I respect these writers’ decisions to give up on their Apple Watch, I do believe it’s a shortsighted move given the newness of the device and its ultimate potential. I believe the Watch quitters were more curious consumers rather than the diehard early adopters who tend to buy new devices without fail while awaiting new features and functionality over time.

The history of consumer tech shows that new products start with a “fundamental” device with a limited feature set that appeals to a small number of early, patient buyers. The original iPod was like this. When it first came out, it had a manual scroll wheel and offered only 5-10GB of storage. But for those who wanted a portable digital media player with more storage than many other devices on the market, it struck a chord. Also in this group of early buyers were the curious adopters, some of whom wound up feeling that the iPod didn’t have enough functions to make it worth their while. Some shoppers returned their iPod within a few days or weeks, and similar “why I returned my iPod” stories arose. But for those who kept their device, they were eventually rewarded with better software — and the iPod hardware only got better over time, too.


The same thing happened with Apple’s original iPhone. It too had minimal functionality as well as no App Store and little storage. We saw early adopters and curious adopters buy iPhones in good numbers, but again there were many stories about why some people “broke up” with their iPhone. Now, Apple is selling iPhones in record numbers.

You can expect history to repeat itself with the Apple Watch. For its newest device, Apple is using the same strategy it did with the iPod and iPhone — the first models had limited software and functionality, but their abilities were greatly expanded through updates in the software and hardware.

The real shift in the iPod came when Apple made serious improvements to iTunes and then opened the iPod up to the Windows crowd, too. The iPod ended up defining the market for mobile digital music players and has pretty much dominated that arena for over a decade. In a similar way, the iPhone got a big lift when Apple gave outside software developers the ability to write native apps for the device. That spurred a previously unseen level of software creativity, and helped launch the age of modern smartphones.

The Apple Watch is following the same path. The device we have now has to be seen as a new mobile platform that will only get better. Apple is about to upgrade the Watch’s software package this fall, and the developer community will soon be able to create tens of thousands of native apps for the Apple Watch.

Early adopters who understand this concept are bound to be rewarded once these new apps start populating the Apple Watch. Like the original iPod and iPhone, this product that has limited functionality today will get a new set of functions that have the potential to make it even better. Given this, it’s just too early to break up with the Apple Watch.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

MONEY technology

Steve Wozniak Says The Internet of Things Is in ‘Bubble Phase’

Federal Communications Commission Votes On Net Neutrality Plan
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Steve Wozniak, co-founder of Apple Inc. and chief scientist of Fusion-io Inc.

The Apple co-founder thinks companies may have overestimated the appeal of connecting everyday objects to the Internet.

Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak recently warned that the Internet of Things, or IoT, market could be reaching a “bubble phase” comparable to the dot-com bust in the late 1990s.

Speaking at the World Business Forum in Sydney, Australia, Wozniak said, “I feel it’s kind of like a bubble, because there is a pace at which human beings can change the way they do things.” He pointed out there were “tons of companies starting up,” but that some might have overestimated the appeal of connecting everyday objects to the Internet.

Wozniak isn’t the only one who thinks the IoT market might be getting ahead of itself. At Gigaom’s Structure Connect event last October, IBM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS MACHINES CORP. IBM -0.38% Vice President of IoT Paul Brody said the market was in “a classic bubble phase,” and that most of the data being accumulated on these devices was “useless”.

Should investors heed Wozniak and Brody’s advice before believing bullish forecasts about the IoT industry?

Irrational industry hype
In the tech world, there’s no concrete definition for a “bubble.” However, one way to gauge bubble-like growth is through irrational industry hype.

It’s easy to find bullish forecasts on the IoT market. Cisco believes the number of connected devices worldwide will double from 25 billion in 2015 to 50 billion in 2020. IDC claims the global IoT market will grow from $1.9 trillion in 2013 to $7.1 trillion by 2020. That’s why tech giants such as Google and Apple are pushing into smart homes, connected cars, wearable devices, and mobile payments.

Spotting that trend, start-ups are flooding the market with IoT and wearable devices for even the silliest niches. A fart-analyzing wearable, a sex-tracking wearable, and a smart bra that detects binge eating all indicate developers are getting carried away with connecting things to the Internet.

On start-up tracking site AngelList, the number of IoT-related start-ups surged from 63 in May 2013 to 1,074 as of this writing. Yet only a handful of those companies might produce IoT or wearable devices that appeal to mainstream consumers.

What about valuations?
Another way to spot an industry bubble is to check the valuations of the publicly traded companies in that sector. Three pure-play IoT and wearable stocks to check are Sierra Wireless SIERRA WIRELESS SWIR 1.06% , Skyworks Solutions SKYWORKS SOLUTIONS SWKS -1.28% , and InvenSense INVENSENSE INC COM USD0.001 INVN 1.62% .

Sierra Wireless is the world’s top manufacturer of 2G, 3G, and 4G LTE embedded modules and gateways. Skyworks Solutions produces analog and mixed signal semiconductors for a wide variety of industries. The two companies’ products represent the basic conduits between objects and the Internet of Things. InvenSense manufactures motion sensors for the majority of non-Apple smartwatches.

As we can see from their trailing P/S ratios over the past five years, these companies’ valuations aren’t anywhere near dot-com bubble levels yet:

SWIR PS Ratio (TTM) Chart

Source: YCharts.

For example, Cisco’s P/S surged to 23 in 2000 right before the dot-com bust. That year, Intel had an average P/S ratio of 11, while Microsoft traded at 17 times sales. Therefore, comparisons between the dot-com bubble and the IoT market might be hyperbolic.

Splitting up the market
The problem with claims that the “IoT bubble” could burst is that they sometimes clump too many categories of products together.

Some markets, such as smart homes and connected cars, could grow at a healthy rate. A recent Coldwell Banker Real Estate survey found that 64% of sales associates believed buyers were more interested in homes with smart features than they were two to five years ago. As for cars, a survey by Accenture found that only 6% of respondents were “not using, nor interested” in using connected navigation systems, and just 14% weren’t interested in using infotainment systems for entertainment. Meanwhile, the industrial IoT market — which helps companies automate tasks and analyze data — will likely keep growing because it cuts costs and boosts efficiency.

As for the wacky market of wearables, a few leaders, such as the Apple Watch, will likely rise to the top while others fade away. Yet many start-ups are still unveiling new wearables products, while angel investors and venture capitalists keep backing them.

A bubble hasn’t formed yet…
For a bubble to truly form, mainstream investors must actively prop up the market — like the way they invested in tech companies during the dot-com bubble. Yet that hasn’t really happened yet.

Most of the “hype” comes from the media, crowdfunding sites, and VCs. Publicly traded pure-play IoT and wearable companies aren’t trading at huge premiums yet, while larger companies such as IBM and Intel have only recently launched IoT units as long-term investments. The IoT market is certainly growing, but just like any other growing industry, plenty of hopeful start-ups could be crushed along the way.

Leo Sun owns shares of Apple.

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TIME Apple

The Apple Watch Is Finally Coming to Stores

Apple Inc. Reveals Bigger-Screen iPhones Alongside Wearables
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images The Apple Watch is displayed after a product announcement at Flint Center in Cupertino, California, U.S., on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014.

Months after its online release

Nearly two months after its official release, the Apple Watch may finally be available at your neighborhood Apple Store soon.

The much-sought-after smartwatch is going to be available at retail locations sometime this month, reports 9to5Mac.com. Previously it had only been available for online purchase.

Apple retail leader Angela Ahrendts sent out materials to stores telling employees to get ready for an Apple Watch launch, per 9to5mac.

The Apple Watch is the first major product launch Apple has undertaken since CEO Tim Cook took over for the late Steve Jobs. Some estimates say the company has sold more than 7 million watches since pre-orders began in April.

TIME legal

Jawbone: Fitbit Employees Stole Company Secrets

Day Two Of Mobile World Congress 2014
Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images Fitbit Flex wearable electronic fitness devices sit on display at the Fitbit Inc. pavilion on day two of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014.

New lawsuit comes as Fitbit readies IPO

Fitbit is prepping for its upcoming market debut, but its road to going public just got a lot bumpier.

Jawbone, Fitbit’s biggest competitor in the wearable health-tracking industry, alleges in a new lawsuit that Fitbit has “systematically” plundered confidential information by luring employees who brought along sensitive materials. Jawbone says Fitbit put into place “clandestine efforts” in order “to steal talent, trade secrets and intellectual property,” according to the complaint, filed Wednesday in California State Court.

Fitbit is the leader in health tracking devices. According to its initial public offering prospectus filed this month, Fitbit’s market share is nearly 85%. Jawbone, Apple and Nike are all competing for the No. 2 spot.

Jawbone’s complaint says that a number of former employees downloaded company information, like business plans and strategy documents, and took that data with them to a new position within Fitbit using thumb drives. It quotes an unnamed executive search consultant saying, “Fitbit’s objective is to decimate Jawbone.”

Jawbone is asking for both financial damages and the court’s intervention to prevent former employees from using any more information they may take.

TIME Apple

Why the Apple Watch Will Get Way Better in the Fall

Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015. From London to Beijing, Apple stores saw few customers lined up before opening Friday as pre-orders started. The first new gadget under Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook is selling in eight countries and Hong Kong, with shipments scheduled to start April 24. Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg
David Paul Morris—© 2015 Bloomberg Finance LP Customers look at Apple Watches on display at an Apple Inc. store in Palo Alto, California, U.S., on Friday, April 10, 2015.

According to an Apple exec

A key Apple exec has made it clear that Apple’s newest product will get better once autumn rolls around.

Jeff Williams, Apple’s senior vice president of operations, said at the Code Conference Wednesday that consumers should expect a surge of higher quality third-party apps for the Apple Watch in the fall, according to 9to5Mac. That’s because developers will have the opportunity to make apps that run natively on the Apple Watch.

Williams added there will be more games and other Apple Watch features coming out in preview mode in the fall as well.

Customer service will also be boosted in the coming months. “Later this year, we’ll have 45,000 people answering the phone to give AppleCare support during the holiday season,” said Williams, according to 9to5Mac.

TIME apps

Google Is Finally Making Apps for the Apple Watch

Apple Debuts New Watch
Stephen Lam—Getty Images The new Apple Watch is seen on display after an Apple special event at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on March 9, 2015 in San Francisco, California.

A news app shows the company won't ignore Apple's device completely

The Apple Watch has added a big new addition to its app developer ranks.

Google released its first app for Apple’s new wearable on Tuesday. Google News & Weather, which was previously available for smartphones, will now allow users to get a quick summary of news headlines from the Apple Watch screen. According a TechCrunch hands-on, the app presents about a dozen headlines with an accompanying photo for each, organized around topics like sports and fashion.

However, users can’t click through to read the entire or article or easily send the content to their phones. There’s also no weather functionality as of yet.

Despite the barebones approach, the app is a signal that Google may eventually roll out some of its more robust apps on Apple’s new device. Google has its own smartwatch platform, Android Wear, that predates Apple Watch. But with the Apple Watch having sold more units on its first day available for pre-order than Android Wear watches sold in all of 2014, according to one estimate, Google may be willing to go where the users are, even if it’s not their own device.

The search giant implements a similar strategy in areas like phones and set-top boxes, where it has well-supported apps for the iPhone and Apple TV.

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