Sunday, 26 February 2017

In A Struggling Wearables Market Can Nokia Make A Go Of It?


Nokia - the real Nokia, rather than the smartphone branding which attaches to HMD Global handsets - has announced it will be re-branding Withings health and fitness devices under its own name from later this year. Not entirely surprising as the purchase was part of a broader plan to position itself as a key consumer health partner and also to edge its way into the market for bridging the consumer / medical professional data silos that currently exist.

The concept is sound. Healthcare organisations provide better, safer care when the data used to make clinical decisions is accurate and up to date. The broader the information, the better the patient pathway. Microsoft, Apple, Google and IBM all have interests in this area, not to mention the specialist health system providers, who would like a piece of this particular pie.

However the recent consolidation of activity tracker OEMs has called into question the size of the consumer market for these devices.

Withings was always about more than just activity trackers though, with a number of connected devices collecting data on things like blood pressure, Oxygen levels, weight and even hair health, it offers a wider tool-set for those wanting to record their physical condition.

With the backing of Nokia, Withings has the financial clout and, shortly, the brand awareness to make this work. Leaving only the question of consumer demand.

The limited success of the Apple Watch calls into question the demand for an advanced device. After all, if Apple can only sell to fractions of a percent of its very loyal user base, what chance does anyone else have? Nokia has two advanatges here: the range of devices available to Nokia customers means a broader spectrum of users from the entry level Go to the Swiss Made Activite. And of course support for the much larger Android user community. 

Can Nokia make a go of the wearables market? From where we stand today, with most of the potential market untapped, it looks to me like Nokia are actually in a position where they could potentially dominate it.

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