Singapore might have a small population, compared to its neighbours, but do not mistake that for apathy when it comes to innovation. The smartwatch industry — still a nascent one at best — in the city-state is booming, according to global research firm GfK, who reported that there were nearly 1,400 smartwatches sold locally in the first two months of 2014, which accounted for a US$345,000 market. As the firm only began to track smartwatches, it does not have information pertaining to the Singaporean market a year ago.
GfK reported that there are currently six brands and models available to consumers in the market, however it declined to disclose the names. These models cost anywhere from the cheaper end of US$100 to more than US$300. It noted that the more high-end models accounted for around 90 per cent of all smartwatches sold in January.
Examples of such smartwatches include the Sony Smartwatch 2, which landed on the shores of Singapore last October and retails at S$338 (US$270), and Samsung Galaxy Gear available at S$488 (US$390).
In an official statement, Gerald Tan, Account Director for Digital World, GfK Asia, said that given Singapore’s status as a “modern and developed country”, the city-state is popular amongst manufacturers in the region. These manufacturers would often choose Singapore as one of the first markets in Asia to launch initial models of smartwatches. This could be attributed to the fact that Singapore has a comparatively smaller population of five million, and works well as a test hub and stepping stone into Southeast Asia.
Tan added, “Since the first smartwatch was launched in mid-2013, adoption level has still remained rather low due to the limitation of choices and features, but as with all other smart devices, we are expecting further advancements in both, technology and adoption that will fast track sales at some point soon as the product continues to develop.” Singaporeans are still more inclined to purchase offline, according to Tan.
While the smartwatch industry is still “at its infancy stage” currently, Tan noted that consumers can expect a trend similar to that of the smartphone and tablet market. After all, big players like Apple, Samsung and Motorola have jumped on the wearable tech bandwagon. Last month, Intel, too, announced a competition for great wearable tech ideas, and Singapore was the only Southeast Asian country to be included.
According to Theo Ahadome, Senior Analyst, IMS Research (via Computerworld), the global wearable technology market will achieve US$6 billion in minimum revenues by 2016.
Are there Singaporean startups working on wearable technologies? We would love to hear from you. Email this author at elaine[at]e27[dot]co.