Canalys recently published a survey that showed 2.7 million wearable bands (e.g. Fitbit, Nike's Fuelband, Motorola's Motoactv etc.) were shipped worldwide in Q1 2014. Some experts predict a decline in popularity + usage of wearable products. Personally I am expecting that soon will come more sophisticated sensor technology designed specifically for wearables.
The golf industry reacted quite quickly to the new trend of wearables. Probably the two most prominent trendsetters are Game Golf (was launched in summer of 2013) and Arccos (innovation partner of Callaway Golf; the original concept/idea is from Callaway Golf).
Both of them are using similar technologies:
- Sensors: the life time of these sensors are limited. In case of Arccos (14 sensors were built in their tool) their life time is cca. 50 rounds. If you are an "armchair golfer" who plays 1x a month then it is OK, but not so good for those golfers who plays 1-2x a week.
- Bluetooth technology 4.0 (I assume Game Golf is also using this version of Bluetooth technology)
Bluetooth 4.0 technology is primarily designed for devices that collect information frequently. It is also an energy saver. There is also a less sophisticated solution that is similar to Game Golf and Arccos. It is called Zepp. In this post I will not review Zepp neither Motorola Motoactv, TomTom Golfer GPS watch and Plunk Golf.
We can see two different approaches. Game Golf says you will be connected with our website where you can find your performance reports. Arccos users at the same time are requested to download a free mobile application. I believe people are likely to download mobile applications for things they do regularly (e.g. reading news, listening to music etc.) or related to their lifestyle.
At the same time it is worth to bear in mind that the average age of golfers in the UK is 63 years and among those who play once a week is 45 years (source: Sports Marketing Surveys Inc.). Smartphone adaption is relatively high in the age group of 45-54 according to the Pew Institute.
Flurry says people prefer mobile application over browser (see picture below) when they use their smartphones. At the same time it is worth to mention how mobile application usage is affecting battery life. In both cases (Game Golf and Arccos) you will be able to play an 18-hole game without any problem, but don't forget at home your cell phone charger.
Arccos could maximize the trend and popularity of "in-app purchase" by selling features, virtual goods, services (maximizing its relationship with Callaway Golf: golf club fitting, golf lessons etc.) for its mobile application. Such sales in Asian markets are soaring, but even in Germany 61% of the revenues were from in-app purchases in 2013.
At Arccos I found some drawbacks:
- Outside the US not every feature is available (Game Golf is also available in Europe and Asia);
- Only 16,000 US golf courses are mapped in the system vs. 35,000 golf courses worldwide are mapped in Game Golf.
- Android version of Arccos Golf will be available only in 2015.
- Mobile application is lack of social media features. This is one of the strengths of Game Golf where you can compare your game performance with other golfers around the globe + share your results via Facebook or Twitter. In Game Golf you can even create a community for yourself.
- It would be helpful if they could show reviews and other references (see Game Golf's example below) to gain trust among prospects and who are behind this product.
- 400 USD!! vs 199 USD (Game Golf)
Nevertheless, I think the above mentioned smartwear solutions have a big drawback, namely they can be only used for golf unlike smartwatches that we can use for many purposes. For this reason I forsee more perspective in smartwatches (see below the insight of Business Insider Intelligence) than the above mentioned gadgets.
From marketer perspective, wearables can provide rich insight about consumer behaviour that can help to improve customer experience and customer satisfaction.
Of course a smartwatch is not able to offer relevant features without being connected to a smartphone.