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Will Wearables Replace Smartphones, House Keys?

Forty-three percent of smartphone owners surveyed in five countries believe smart watches will eventually replace smartphones, and 38 percent believe wearables will perform most smartphone functions in only five years, an Ericsson survey found.

As part of the Internet of Things, wearables will replace a lot more than just smartphones, many smartphone owners also believe.

Fifty percent said they’ll replace watches and clocks, 48 percent expect them to replace glucose and blood-pressure monitors, 48 percent expect them to replace house and car keys, and 46 percent expect them to replace GPS-navigation devices. Wearables will also have an impact on TV remotes and handheld cameras, may consumer believe. (See chart below.)

A total of 60 percent of smartphone owners believe wearables will have uses beyond health and wellness.

For its report, Ericsson surveyed 5,000 smartphone users in Brazil, China, South Korea, the U.K. and the U.S. Of those, 2,500 were wearable users.

Untethered wearables: Stand-alone capabilities will help wearables replace smartphones, consumers believe.

Half of existing smartwatch users expect wearables will be stand-alone devices that need no smartphone connection, and 83 percent of all smartphone users expect wearables to have some form of stand-alone connectivity such as cellular or Wi-Fi.

In fact, a lack of stand-alone functions is one major reason that existing wearables owners abandon their wearables, though abandonment rates are falling, Ericsson said.

“A common cause of dissatisfaction is feeling tethered to their smartphone,” Ericsson said. Among those who abandoned wearables, 23 percent did so because their wearables weren’t stand-alone devices or lacked built-in Internet coactivity such as 3G or 4G, the company found. Twenty-one percent cited limited functionality and use. Nine percent cited inaccurate data. (See chart below.)

Overall, 25 percent of wearables owners who bought one in the past three months said their device failed to meet expectations.

Nonetheless, consumers have high expectations for wearables.

Today, 25 percent of existing wearables users already own more than one wearable device, and 10 percent own four. But a third of smartphone users believe they will use at least five connected wearables after 2020.

Their top picks vary. Among smartphone owners, here’s what they said they’re willing to buy:

1. Panic/SOS button (32 percent)
2. Smart watch (28 percent)
3. Wearable location tracker (27 percent)
4. Identity authenticator (25 percent)
5. Wearable water purifier (24 percent)
The survey also found that:

–4 out of 10 smartwatch users spend less time looking at their smartphone screen because notifications are now available on their smartwatches;

–25 percent of smartwatch owners use their smartwatch to remotely control other digital devices at home; and

–30 percent use voice search on a smart watch.