up band collage

Wearables: When fashion and function converge

Last month I was asked to comment on a Quora question on how the Apple Watch would impact the wearables market. In my post, I explained that we welcomed them to the table, but that it’s really important to be clear on the what is meant by the ‘wearables market’.

I wanted to provide a bit more explanation into how we at Jawbone see the market segmenting today. The guiding principle for us is about how people wear things. And by ‘things’, I don’t mean tech. I mean everyday clothing and fashion. The first point is an obvious one: we all wear clothes, jewelry and accessories in different ways. Some people wear a watch, some wear jewelery, and others wear both. Nobody wants to look exactly like the person next to them on the subway, or be ‘that guy’ wearing the same shirt as someone else at a party. People like variety—and personalization. Second, what we wear at any moment changes based on the activities we have planned for the day. It may even change multiple times in a day.

With these principles in mind, we see the wrist wearables market falling into at least three defined categories. These categories outlined below are certainly marked by duration of wear:

  • Workout – An episodic wear pattern.
  • Smartwatch – Worn during the day, like a watch.
  • Lifestyle – Worn 24/7, both while you’re awake and while you’re asleep.

Each of these categories also has a different primary problem it is solving… and a different set of trade-offs the product can make in order to fulfill those expectations.

Workout trackers provide great tracking detail into a concentrated period of time. A smartwatch serves as an extension of the smartphone, where rich but simplified interactions are essential. And lifestyle devices, such as UP & UP24, provide personalized behavior coaching and 24/7 wear in a small and unobtrusive form factor.

The table below provides a quick summary of the key functionality for each category, along with the features consumers forgive in favor of the primary use case:

wearbles chart

Many products claim features that straddle the categories. This is fine for secondary functions, but is dangerous for primary ones.

For instance, someone may primarily be interested in smartwatch functionality but have a secondary interest in workout or lifestyle measures. In that case, the smartwatch may be used for step tracking or light workout tracking. But is disadvantaged against a deeper workout tracking device due to size, battery life and sensor trade-offs.

Similarly for a person interested in total and overall health, sleep is an essential measure for understanding and achieving health goals. A smartwatch or similar sized device will fail to meet these expectations because people are unlikely to wear something that big for sleep. So if someone is deeply interested in workout and lifestyle as primary functions, they will likely have both a smartwatch and a lifestyle tracker, much the same as they have workout shoes that are different from their work shoes.

Wearability – size, style and comfort – ultimately becomes the deciding factor, with functionality being critical to the primary use case. At Jawbone, we embrace this variety of wearable configurations. The UP system will be able to help people make sense of all the data in each of these configurations as I further explained in a previous post about our open platform.

About The Author

Travis Bogard

Travis Bogard is the vice president of product management and strategy at Jawbone, where he oversees the company’s product roadmap, strategy, customer service, and business development activities globally.