#Trending: Wearable tech brands sidestep the spotlight

Hiatus or not, it seems more and more companies are pulling out of the wearable game – but how serious is it?

In this new format of our weekly #Trending feature, we’ll explore what’s going on, which names sound like they’re leaving wearables behind and if it’s a big deal.

What’s happening?

#Trending: Wearable brands stepping back

Many smartwatch and fitness tracker companies have popped up over the years but building a name along with a reliable reputation for the accuracy and fitness tracking tech needed for wearables is tough. On top of that, there’s the fashion, comfort, battery life and so much more to consider. Ultimately, the toughest problem has been getting you to keep wearing and/or keep buying a new device every year.

Apple’ll surely manage it, though…

Smartphone brands have found the secret formula to keep you coming back for another one, however it seems wrist innovation is more complicated. Now it’s not like Apple will stop making Apple Watches, but even the mighty Cupertino crown has fallen slightly.

Despite waterproofing and GPS features making it the most sought after smartwatch out now, sales still haven’t matched the original Watch figures.

Startups having any luck?

On top of that, the smaller brands are struggling the most with being overrun by an increasingly crowded space. Yes, this has been said many times before but with the news lately, it seems more true than ever.

Sophie Charara wrote about the latest acquisition rumors flying around saying, “…the smartwatch world is becoming cut-throat, and it seems only the biggest can survive.”

So without the power of Apple, who are you left with?

So the major players are getting sidelined?

#Trending: Wearable brands stepping back

Though not everything has been confirmed, the writing’s on the wall for several companies who seem like they’re getting ready to cut and run. Then there’s Microsoft which has definitely thrown in the towel… for now.

The Microsoft Band 2 was discontinued earlier this year and while the company says it will “remain committed to supporting our Microsoft Band 2 customers” there aren’t options if you want to buy a Band.

OK. Android Wear?

More recently, Motorola says its halting annual production of the Moto 360 lineup stating, “Wearables do not have broad enough appeal for us to continue to build on it year after year.” It doesn’t sound like a permanent end, rather Moto is taking a break but how long the lapse will last is up in the air.

Jawbone? Pebble?

Less officially, Jawbone has gone through a slew of rumors that it’s shuttering the company for good – only to slam the hearsay over and over again.

Wearable cult favorite Pebble is reportedly being bought up by fitness tracker king Fitbit after an ongoing series of financial issues. Whether Pebble is sold off or not, it doesn’t sound like it will stop making wearables – which is great – but it’s still a shame to see the famed underdog struggling to make ends meet.

Without constant innovation or options to continue bankrolling output, it’s quickly become a dog-eat-dog wearable world where you call it a day or look for the highest bidder.

Out for the count then?

#Trending: Wearable brands stepping back

Things are looking grim, but we’re still pretty optimistic about the future of wearables. Despite the trend that brands are stepping away from wearables or selling to survive, it’s clear they aren’t giving up entirely.

Microsoft plans on keeping its Health platform alive and well, and while it’s not a wrist based wearable, the HoloLens and mixed reality headsets are still very much on the roster. Additionally, Jawbone could be readying the 2017 launch of a medical grade wearable.

Any good news from the buyouts?

We can look to Misfit who was bought by Fossil as an example of what could happen with Pebble and Fitbit.

Misfit and Fossil have made an exceptional team without changing what’s fundamentally important to each – and seem to be on a roll with Fossil’s mission to deliver 100 by the year’s end and Misfit releasing the Phase smart analogue smartwatch.

Then you have the brands plagued by problems but are still hanging on without missing a beat. We’re talking about Samsung’s Galaxy Note 7 debacle and its on-track launch of the Samsung Gear S3 – plus Intel’s Basis Peak watch recall being a small blip in its overarching wearable roadmap.

OK, so what’s the headline here? Game on?

Yes, there’s a lot of change and shuffling around but it doesn’t spell the end of wearables as we know it. The numbers aren’t all completely in and there’s other brands to consider too like Garmin, Polar, TomTom, Casio and so forth who are doing just fine.

There are two big takeaways from this trend with one being the ‘full steam ahead’ approach companies have taken. More specifically, it seems like wearables aren’t meant to be yearly iterations and with this realization, the industry is slowing down a bit opposed to delivering too much too soon.

The second part is that it sounds like the companies themselves are waiting for a killer app. In fact, Motorola’s said it best: “We believe the wrist still has value and there will be a point where they provide value to consumers more than they do today.”