The Week in Wearables May 1

Consumer Wearables

Several earnings announcements this week in wearables:
– Apple said Apple Watch sales “nearly doubled” YOY and their entire “wearables” category (which includes Beats, Apple Watch and AirPods) would be a Fortune 500 company if spun out, which puts the revenue at least $5.1B. Here.
– Fitbit exceeded their lowered earnings expectations on Wall Street, but the numbers were still ugly. They sold 3M devices in 1Q17 – down from 4.8M in 1Q16, 38% drop. US and Asia took big hits, with 52% and 63% revenue drops, respectively. Here.
– Garmin’s fitness category that includes all their wearables saw a 3.5% decline YOY in Q1. On their earnings call, Garmin CEO said the decline was due to lower-end activity trackers, which were “down sharply”. The decline was partially off-set by increases in their higher-end GPS devices. Here.

Apple Watch may have become the largest watch brand in the world by revenue. Note – largest watch brand, not watch maker. Still not as big as some of the luxury watch conglomerates, but still impressive in a very short time. Here.

One more piece of Apple news – apparently AirPods owners love them. 98% satisfaction rate. Clearly some buyers bias here, but still interesting when you consider the first iPhone had a 92% sat rate when it came out in 2007. Some other good data in this report – one point in particular: 64% of consumers somewhat disagree or strongly disagree they keep wired headphones handy just in case AirPods don’t work. Here.

Large study of 8,000 employers shows 35% of US employers are now using wearables in their employee wellness programs, up 10% since 2015. Key criteria for wearables in wellness programs (employers’ perspective): 1) app usability, 2) ability to sync with wellness vendor, 3) long battery life. Here.

Medical Wearables

The FDA’s Bakul Patel provided some insights on the FDA’s draft guidance on software as a medical device. 1,400 comments received during the open period so far have sparked debate about how to define scientific and clinical validation when software evolves so rapidly. Here.

Wide-ranging interview with Vijay Pande, A16Z’s head of their new biotech fund. Not surprisingly AI and machine learning are covered quite a bit, but some interesting perspective on pharma’s future and wearables. Worth the read. Here.

Using wearables to monitor anxiety in addition recovery patients. Tracking signs of stress through heart rate and breathing rate. Here.

Good update from Mike Feibus on recent market traction with closed-loop wearable insulin delivery devices, AKA the “artificial pancreas”. Here.


Apple and Xiaomi have both overtaken Fitbit in wearables unit volume in 1Q17, according to one analyst group. Here.

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