Who's Winning the Wearable Tech Race?

In the booming wearable tech market, integration is key.

Jan 15, 2014 at 5:00PM

The Fool heads out to Vegas to check out the 2014 International Consumer Electronics Show. With more than 3,200 exhibitors, including 88% of the top retailers in consumer electronics, the CES is the place to be to see what's coming up in tech.

Wearable tech is hot, especially for fitness applications. Everybody wants to grab a piece of the wearables market, but a few brands are already out ahead of the pack, thanks at least in part to the social connectivity component.

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A full transcript follows the video.

Austin Smith: Hey, Fools, Austin Smith and Eric Bleeker here on the floor of CES 2014. We're in the wearables section, and there's definitely an extreme emphasis on the fitness aspect of wearables technology.

Some of the companies that we're going to be keeping our eyes out for are obviously the big brands in the fitness space; companies like Nike (NYSE:NKE), companies like Under Armour (NYSE:UA), there's a Reebok tent right behind us. Of course, we're standing in front of the Fitbit booth and, although not publicly traded, it's definitely become one of the big companies in this space.

Eric, as we look at these fitness brands and how wearables fit into their game plan, what sort of things are we going to be looking at to know which one of these companies is going to get out front and win this race?

Eric Bleeker: Definitely, good secrets don't get hidden long in technology. We've seen fitness and wearable tech explode in the last year. We have a whole exhibition here, with literally every single brand you can name.

One of the key areas that you're seeing with a lot of these fitness tech products is integration into friends -- to basically keep you accountable, and there's a high social aspect to that.

Leaders like Fitbit are well in front of the crowd. If you're going to release that right now, well, a lot of people already are connected into different platforms via either Nike, with their Plus platform, or Fitbit right now, so I think you need to look at early leaders. It's not just a technology advantage; it's a connection advantage. You can't come in late to the game with similar technology and hope to win. I think the early leaders have a huge advantage here.

Smith: Yeah, I think that's a great point. This is definitely a bit of a land-grab industry, and when you have a big brand behind you -- like Under Armour, like Nike, and like Fitbit -- you're going to have that early audience. These companies just got out front quickly.

Although we've seen a lot of Fitbit knockoffs and competitors here, there is no doubt the Fitbit booth is three to four times more packed than these comparable products, even just a few more booths down, so I think that point really rings true.

Thanks for tuning in. Make sure to head over to Fool.com for more CES and wearable technology coverage. 

Austin Smith and Eric Bleeker, CFA have no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of Nike and Under Armour. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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