Italy’s wearable market starting to spin up

Italy might be coming a little late to the wearable game, but with its long history of a performance and fashion focus, it’s now starting to put out some of the best looking wearable devices we’ve ever seen. The latest figures from IDC also paint a picture of solid growth in the sector, thanks to a mostly fashion focus.

“Almost all the latest announcements in the category showed that vendors put an effort to make their technology good-looking and history says this bodes well for the Italian market,” said Gabriele Roberti, senior research analyst at IDC Italia in a chat with ZDNet.

This statement is backed up by IDC’s hard number predictions, which suggest that upwards of 700,000 wearable devices will be sold in Italy alone this year. This would represent a near 200 per cent growth over the 2013-2014 period if proved correct and would certainly point to a wearable explosion in the country.

It's just not caught on as much as Google hoped.

It’s just not caught on as much as Google hoped.

As Zdnet points out, this would be a boon for local developers and international ones, as compared to English speaking countries around the world, Italy has been relatively slow on its uptake of wearable gadgets. However now more are coming to market with a fashion focus and some technological features, they’re starting to take off in the Mediterranean country.

One brand that’s hoping to cash in on this trend, is MyAngelCare, a startup that is creating an NFC enabled bracelet that will give quick access to health information on a person, but the bracelet itself is designed to look good first and foremost.

“In the wearable devices market, we think the first approach to the object makes the difference between success or failure. Therefore the product has to deliver a service, but it also has to be cool,” said Riccardo Zanini, the firm’s CFO.

This is a trend that we’ve seen start to take hold here in the UK and in the US as well, with some developers pushing the envelope to create premium, prototype wearables like Microsft and its parntership with fashion designer Adrien Sauvage, which saw it bundle a Nokia phone charging plate into a pair of expensive trousers. Intel’s MICA bracelet is another prime example, where fashion and status are twinned with some basic technology, rather than what smartwatches and fitness trackers offer: a lot of function, in a pretty typical looking wristband.

Seizing on Italy’s growing trend though, Google recently partnered with Luxottica, the Italian brand that owns the likes of Oakley and Ray-Ban. It’s thought likely that Google could end up producing some fashion focused versions of its Google Glass prototype, perhaps to sell locally, but certainly overseas where its HUD specs haven’t really caught on.