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Is Pakistan ready for Smartwatches and Wearables?

As wearable devices have entered the mobile tech world, many are wondering whether it has the possibility to transcend worldwide, especially in developing countries. In the past, even the tablets we know today found it difficult to penetrate the global consumer mobile market in early 2010, as people deemed it “unnecessary” when smartphones could perform far superior mobile functions than the bigger, tablet devices. With the release of the iPad, people finally found a reason to get a tablet for work and educational purposes. But will smartwatches and wearables have the same success as tablets, especially in a developing country such as Pakistan?

Smartphone ownership is low
Most smartwatches and other types of wearables are not standalone devices, thus it will still require a paired smartphone in order to perform most of its mobile features such as taking calls and texting as well as browsing the internet. Mobile manufacturers made their devices compatible with their latest smartphones on the market, except for Samsung who made one of their smartwatches smarter than their other wearables. The company released their Galaxy Gear S that can run its own SIM card and perform similar mobile functions as its smartphone. However, it can also be paired with their latest Galaxy smartphones to access some of the handset’s files and contacts.

Wearables may find it hard to penetrate the Pakistani market because smartphone ownership in the country is fairly low. In Pakistan, a 2014 Pew Research Center study confirmed that there is only 8 percent of the population who own a smartphone, yet internet content consumption is higher than its ownership rate. The survey also said that this is due to the fact that Pakistanis have embraced socializing online and getting information and news about their country.

Given a low ownership of smartphone, it might take a few more years before Pakistanis will be convinced to adopt newer forms of mobile technologies. However, their drive to socialize and to get the latest news could potentially accelerate the purchasing of wearables across the country, as these devices promise to offer mobile features and functions like the best smartphones.

Smartwatch competition in Pakistan
Adoption of wearables and smartwatches in developed countries is at its all-time high. In the UK alone, Samsung reported in late 2014 that the wearable tech market is expected to be worth 104.7 million GBP (or 15.9 billion PKR) by 2015. Some of the top smartwatches in the UK today, includes Moto 360, Sony SmartWatch 2 and 3, and the Pebble watches. Although adoption of wearables in Pakistan may take longer than others, with low ownership of smartphones, many companies have released their devices to the market. These are the smart wristwatch devices that you can find in Pakistan:
1. LG G Watch
2. Sony SmartWatch 2
3. Motorola Moto 360
4. Samsung Galaxy Gear
5. Samsung Galaxy Gear S
6. KeldD Karavan – X01
7. Asus ZenWatch

Most mobile network carriers in Pakistan aren’t offering these devices to their subscribers just yet, limiting the reach of these wearables to the Pakistani market. In addition, only e-commerce websites outside of Pakistan offer these gadgets to their market for very unreasonable prices – anyway from 23,000 PKR upwards.

Although there might be difficulties along the way for wearables in penetrating the PK market, it will only take a matter of time before Pakistanis will begin to understand the significance and importance of wearables in their daily lives. Maybe, when that time comes, wearable manufacturers will have created more standalone wearable devices to replace smartphones and tablet. Are you ready to own a smartwatch or wearable?

Photo Credit: ianfogg42 via Compfight cc

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