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Wearables set for growth

Distribution has already worked out that wearables will be a major play over the next few years and numbers from CCS Insight have backed that up

Over the past year distributors have been striking up relationships with some of the leading names in the wearables market as they look to ensure they have the right products in their portfolios for when the market goes mainstream.

Tech Data has signed up Jawbone and the option to carry Microsoft's Band 2 device this year and has indicated that more is to come on the wearables front.

Michael Cain, business development manager for wearables at Tech Data, said last month that the prospects for the Band 2 in the business market were significant.

“It’s still very early days but we are already uncovering huge opportunities and creating some very interesting case studies," he said.

Exertis has been another actively adding wearables and smart technology to its range as it positions itself for a future that involves more health and fitness trackers.

“Our portfolio in security, environmental control, system automation, home entertainment and wearables provides resellers and retailers with a wide choice of incredibly innovative, high quality products that are not only desirable but also increase efficiency and add value for users in today’s connected world,” said Rod Slater, Exertis head of smart technology back at the start of the year.

What channel figures like Cain and Slater believe is going to happen in the wearables space is being borne out by some of the research coming out of the market.

CCS Insight has just launched its UK forecast for smart wearble devices estimating that by the end of this year there will be around 10m devices being used in this country.

That number is expected to triple over the next four years to 33m units with fitness trackers tacking a large chunk of that growth.

Smartphone companions will form the biggest part of the market in terms of value with that segment being worth £300m this year on shipments of 1.5m.

"Advances in design and affordability mean that this year wearables have become devices that ordinary people actually want to wear. Consumers in the UK have adopted wearable technology enthusiastically, particularly fitness trackers, which are becoming an increasingly commonplace accessory on people's wrists," said George Jijiashvili, analyst for wearables at CCS.

There are also expectations that there will be growth in virtual reality products and wearable cameras, particularly 360 degree cameras.

"All eyes are on virtual reality given it's one of the hottest new technology areas to emerge this year. There's going to be a deluge of exciting 360-degree content widely available on Facebook and YouTube, and we're confident consumers will be keen to try it. The arrival of several 360-degree cameras during 2016 will further fuel the explosion of what we're calling surroundies," he said.

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