This Statistic Should Worry The Makers Of Wearable Devices

One-third of Americans ditch their wearable device within six months. Is it the current technology's limitations? Or are wearables simply not as disruptive as we might think them to be?

Last year for his birthday, we surprised my dad with a Nike FuelBand. On the official spectrum of tech-savvy (which I just invented), he'd probably rank just above the mean. He is, however, obsessed with taking care of himself, and enjoys toying around with shiny new gizmos, like super-powered veggie juicers. He loved it.

But by the time I visited again over the holidays, he'd stopped wearing it. I found the FuelBand stashed in a drawer near the family computer, looking sad and collecting dust. "Why'd you stop wearing it?" I asked him. "Oh," he said. "I keep forgetting."

His answer was telling. One in six Americans already own a piece of wearable technology, while more than half say they are interested in purchasing one. But a new report highlighted in the Guardian seems to support the idea that wearables simply don't have the same staying power as other disruptive technologies, like, say, smartphones. According to research from Endeavour Partners, one-third of Americans who own a wearable device stop using it within the first six months. What's more, half of American adults who own fitness trackers specifically—like the FuelBand and Jawbone—have already stopped using those, too.

Of course, that might speak more to the technology's current limitations. Right now, fitness trackers can't do much more than approximate how many miles you walked, or tell you how many calories you burned swinging a tennis racket. And battery life still isn't in a place where we can completely quantify our weekly habits without needing to plug the damn thing in. When we slap on a wearable, we remain conscious of its presence, and that is a problem.

It's too early to conclude if the technology will ever become pervasive enough for someone like my mom to care about. After all, we have yet to truly experience what the Googles and Apples of the world are capable of.

Add New Comment

41 Comments

  • I see two main problems that are causing stickiness: the first is the lack of actionability on the data generated by wearable devices. As long as wearables will merely generate data and not value / actions / life , stickiness will remain an issue as the impact of wearing & using them will not be seen by most consumers, or forgotten overtime.. The second is "apps, data and dashboard overload" driven by a very specialized (and expanding) smart devices products landscape. We're working on solving both issue over at https://www.lifegate.io

  • Todd Bernhard

    That's because a fitness band is extraneous. Most of us wear a watch and it's part of our routine. Adding another wrist device is an extra step. Plus, it needs to be charged frequently, so you may not leave on your nightstand as you would with a watch. If a wearable device replaced your watch, or had longer battery life, or stayed on then it would be less likely to be left behind.

  • There's two main problem: Form Factor and Value. #MetriaIH1 by #Vancive is going to change all this. If you're going to spend hundreds of dollars on something that gives you few hours of data per day and that you give up wearing after few months... How good is that investment? I would rather spend few tens of dollars to get full 24/7 data that I can truly use to change my behavior." #JamesMetriaGuy #missionmakeover3

  • Until wearables make it to your top 5 items list to take with you on a desert, then of course people will be bored. They need to offer that value-add to the consumer that they cannot get anywhere else. It will take time, and the only way this will happen is when it becomes integrated with useful apps and services. The smartphone was the same, it existed before the iPhone but did not become the "must-have" necessity until Apple released the iPhone with Apps and that changed the perception of smartphones. Hopefully within a short frame of time, the valueness-factor of the wearable device becomes enhanced with the release of useful apps for it.

  • I completely agree with you on that! The other factor is ease of use and value. Would you spend few tens of dollars to monitor your lifestyle for 24/7 in 1 minute resolution without any user intervention? #MetriaIH1 by #Vancive will change all that. check it out on vancive.com/metria

  • I think is about the frequency of information sharing. I don´t need to know my burned calories each time I take a walk. But would be useful to have that info once at month, for instance. And ideally integrated in my clothes where I couldn´t notice that there is something there tracking my steps. Of course recharging bateries through sun rays.

  • yup. I agree with you on that. No need to see how you burned your Calorie every second in an instant! You'll like what #MetriaIH1 by #Vancive will do. check it out on vancive.com/metria

  • We should think in terms of 'why do people remember to pick up their smartphone or their wallet, or their keys?' The answer is plain and simple, they offer practical applications whilst out that we really notice when they're not there. That's the only reason to keep these things on you as often as we do.

    I like the allure of these fitness bands and wearables but they fail for the same reason that gym memberships falter in January. Forming new habits is difficult for most and a real struggle for some.

    Until wearables offer something that's useful within the framework of existing habits and desires - rather than trying to form new habits around good intentions - they won't have 'stickiness' and will end up gathering dust in drawers.

  • The problem is not with form factor, but with use case. MP3 players were going nowhere, until Apple brough iPod out with "insanely great" user experience - on the device AND on the infrastructure levels.

    The same logic applies to the success of wearables.

    Design -- Look at Moto 360 - you cannot compare it to other ugly "boxes" out there. Consider the "dark eye" problem - if the screen goes dark at some point, it looks horrible. Showing at least time on a normal screen drains the battery fast. That's why "Apple" factor is critical for wide adoption from the aesthetic point of view.

    Use cases -- Knowing my sleep pattern or my average pulse rate gives me nothing. I.e. useless data which I cannot act upon. That's why fitness/health wearables are niche products, for keen enthusiasts.

    Wearables with such functions as mass transit, mobile payments, access control, secure e-commerce etc are a totally different story. That's what we are focusing on with MultiPass.

  • The problem is not with form factor, but with use case. MP3 players were going nowhere, until Apple brough iPod out with "insanely great" user experience - on the device AND on the infrastructure levels.

    The same logic applies to the success of wearables.

    Design Look at Moto 360 - you cannot compare it to other ugly "boxes" out there. Consider the "dark eye" problem - if the screen goes dark at some point, it looks horrible. Showing at least time on a normal screen drains the battery fast. That's why "Apple" factor is critical for wide adoption from the aesthetic point of view.

    Use case Knowing my sleep pattern or my average pulse rate gives me nothing. I.e. useless data which I cannot act upon. That's why fitness/health wearables are niche products, for keen enthusiasts.

    Wearables with such functions as mass transit, mobile payments, access control, secure e-commerce etc is a totally different story. That's what we are focusing on with MultiPass.

  • Wearable is all about fashion or making best use of technology. As Google came up with Android Wearable OS, which would be used by various smartphone manufacturer in their smartwatch. It's very interesting to see how Google is building platform rather than making device, this is the reason why Google is known as engineers company. Google Android Wear Will Trigger Smartwatch Race To 373 Million Units By 2020. http://www.dazeinfo.com/2014/03/19/google-inc-goog-android-wear-smartwatch-shipments-2020/

  • Wearable is all about fashion or making best use of technology. As Google came up with Android Wearable OS, which would be used by various smartphone manufacturer in their smartwatch. It's very interesting to see how Google is building platform rather than making device, this is the reason why Google is known as engineers company. Google Android Wear Will Trigger Smartwatch Race To 373 Million Units By 2020.

  • Didier Grossemy

    Well...I have been using mine everyday for the lat 6 months and I can't get enough. Maybe I will get to my six month hitch next months. My comments will be that if they could really make it look more stylish you would look less like a nerd (nothing wrong with that by the way). I am waiting for jewellery designers to start integrating the smart and it will become amazing. As if you are wearing it, less face it must look good.

  • David William Beck

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLBE5QAYXp8 this sort of illustrates my point, the entire high energy system we've built is unsustainable, we all know that oil, coal and gas won't last forever and yet we are using more of these than ever. The food "industry" is especially vulnerable, without lots of cheap oil industrial farming doesn't work.