How Quickly Is the E-Sports Industry Growing?
Growth in the e-sports industry is exploding, but it is not clear how much of this growth is sustainable and how much is merely a fad – especially in the high-profile wearables market.
The e-sports industry consists of an assortment of devices which measure either the effectiveness of an individual’s execution of a sports-related action or biometrics of the individual himself in order to identify opportunities for improving performance or overall health.
Wearable devices, led by biometric health monitors, have been grabbing public attention and racking up dramatic sales. The lure of these devices seems to be their promise to give users the ability to track their activity levels as a way to incentivize themselves to improve their activity level and overall health.
According to Canalys, “The wearable band market grew over 150% as more than 7 million units were shipped in the first quarter of 2015.” (http://www.canalys.com/newsroom/media-alert-fitbit-maintains-leadership-share-wearable-band-market-apple-watch-entrance)
But the sustainability of the market is unclear. Will wearable activity monitors suffer the same fate as gym memberships soar every January as a result of New Years resolutions, and then quickly decline as people fall back to their old patterns? There are two sources of headwinds for this booming market.
The first source of headwind is the inroads into the e-sports market by feature-rich, multi-function wearables such as the Apple Watch. Arguably such devices may still be considered to be e-sports devices because they can provide the same biometric monitoring. But purchases of these more fully featured devices are likely motivated for different reasons than just performance monitoring and improvement. Many people are looking to the early versions of Apple Watch as a convenient payment mechanism for retail purchases and as an alert mechanism to inform them about the receipt of important messages or calendar events.
According to CheatSheet.com, “Fitbit’s activity trackers and Apple’s watch are intended for different purposes, and frankly, their comparative price points make Fitbit’s audience much wider than Apple’s. Fitbit devices are focused strictly on fitness, while the Apple Watch is a true smartwatch, with communication features and apps in addition to activity-tracking functions.” (http://www.cheatsheet.com/gear-style/4-reasons-people-are-buying-fitbit-instead-of-apple-watch.html/?a=viewall) This is reflected in different current price points for each product.
Fitbit’s devices range in price from $60 to $250, while the Apple Watch starts at $350. According to ClearSheet.com, “Slice says that less than 5% of people who have bought a Fitbit since the end of 2013 have also purchased an Apple Watch, while 11% of those who have bought an Apple Watch had purchased a Fitbit product.” (http://www.cheatsheet.com/gear-style/4-reasons-people-are-buying-fitbit-instead-of-apple-watch.html/?a=viewall)
But Apple Watch is only an early, though highly visible, entrant in this nascent market. Other fully featured devices are certain to follow. With falling prices, the price edge of wearable products from makers such as Fitbit and Jawbone will likely diminish and, with that, their competitive edge.
The second source of headwind is the faddish nature of the current products. As illustrated by current sales trends, there is strong initial interest in these products. But are these products just another per rock? Former user Deepak told CBC News, “Once you get to a state where you are happy with the activities you do, it loses its efficacy.”(http://www.cbc.ca/news/technology/fitbit-quitters-fitness-trackers-often-abandoned-within-months-1.31445340)
According to Forbes, “15% of Fitbit users “disconnect” within the first 30 days.” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2015/05/07/fitbit-has-a-problem-and-it-isnt-apple/) Christopher Mims of the Wall Street Journal sees even strong evidence of the faddish nature of wearables, claiming that, “42% of people stop wearing fitness trackers after 6 months. Any growth left for FitBit is just people who haven’t tried, discarded it yet.” (https://twitter.com/mims/status/596411681611321346)”
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