The Rise of the Fitness Band

More than 17 million expected to ship in 2014

FitBit

The Fitbit Force.     Photo: Courtesy of Fitbit

Wearable bands are seeing dramatic sales growth, according to a new report from industry researcher Canalys.

During the last six months of 2013, 1.6 million smart bands were shipped worldwide, and more than 17 million wearable bands are forecast to ship in 2014. Fitbit leads the market in basic wearable bands after launching the Flex and Force bands last year.

Samsung dominates the smart wearable band category with its Galaxy Gear smart watch. Canalays forecasts that this technology will only gain popularity in the next five years, growing to 45 million units shipped by 2017.

"The wearable band market is really about the consumerization of health," analyst Daniel Matte says in the report. "There will be exciting innovations that disrupt the medical industry this year, and with the increased awareness about personal well-being they will bring to users, having a computer on your wrist will become increasingly common."

Companies such as Sony, China-based Huawei, and Apple are expected to enter the fitness band world in the immediate future. Sony unveiled its Core fitness tracker and SmartBand accessory at CES last month and expects to release the device globally next month. Rumors are also circulating that Apple will make a big push into the market with the next version of iOS, with the upcoming iWatch in mind. This wearable device could be capable of tracking blood pressure, hydration, heart rate, and steps, according to 9to5Mac.com.

Yet, despite their increasing popularity, fitness bands aren't for everyone. Some customers using Fitbit Force have compained that the device causes a skin rash. The company has issued a recall and halted the sale of its Force wristband on Friday.

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