The Most Interesting Gadget Fight this Holiday Season

I was looking over the list of the hottest tech products in demand this holiday season and two of them popped up as interesting and contradictory. One of the products are hover boards and I admit, I am really tempted to buy one. Ever since I saw the movie “Back to the Future” I loved the idea of having a hover board to zip around town and glide from place to place. Although the “hover boards” out now are actually pseudo-versions and more like a mini-Segway in some regards, they are still really cool. At my local mall, they have them in kiosks and I tried the Fiturbo F1. I loved how smooth the ride was and how easy it was to control. Here is a link to some of the top brands available including the Powerboard Hoverboard, which I have been told is the best of this new breed of hover boards on the market today.

The other hot products on the market are smartwatches and fitness bands, both of which emphasize how many steps a person takes and have all types of apps and other fitness related tracking to encourage us to stay active. But this product, at least for me, presents a real contradiction to my techno-lust for a hover board. This may seem silly but as a heart patient who strives to get in my 10,000 steps a day, the desire to buy a hover board presents a serious conflict. They key reason is I am a bit lazy by nature and it takes a real effort for me to exercise and walk my 10K steps each day. Hopping on a hover board and using it to get from place to place would be so much easier.

This holiday, the supply of hover boards will be relatively low because of limited stock, with sales between 75,000-100,000 units sold by end of the year. However, our estimate is this product will be even hotter next year and we will see between 400,000 to 500,000+ hover boards sold in 2016. Most are priced in the $250 to $1200 range and initially, geeks will be the one’s scooping them up. But we expect them to go more mainstream next year and, with more competition, the prices will potentially come down a bit by next fall.

In contrast, we will see close to 30-40 million fitness trackers sold this year, growing to about 50-60 million sold in 2017. And in 2016, we estimate about 30-40 million smartwatches will be sold. While I am still weighing the idea of buying my own hover board and inserting a bit of personal discipline so that, even if I own one, I will keep my aggressive walking schedule, the more important question at this time is whether this current crop of hover boards are worth buying this early in their lifecycle. It turns out that they are all produced by only two factories in Shenzhen and the six I mention above pretty much use the same internal designs but with different “skins” and outside designs to try and make each different from the other.

I am aware of the fact that, by this time next year, we will see even better models that are more sturdy with better mileage goals, as well as much better designs. Even though these current models are ok and work well, I see them more as beta versions compared with what we will see this time next year and the year after.

The other thing that will keep me from buying one this year is I am already seeing cities, shopping malls, and other public areas mulling over the use of a hover board. I liken it to the Segway problem when they came out. The folks behind the Segway thought cities would embrace them because they were fuel efficient and added a safe form of transportation that could be used on sidewalks, inside malls and stores, etc. However, almost immediately after the Segway came out, many cities and shopping malls banned them as they were deemed unsafe to use around pedestrians. A hover board in many ways is more like a skateboard and I am hearing that initially they may be governed by rules applied to skate boards and could be banned from malls and stores very soon.

So I will refrain from buying a hover board this year and wait for better models and better prices and allow cities, shopping malls, and the like to work out the legal kinks of where I can use one. But I am still itching to get one. I just have to exercise patience and wait a bit longer before I join the hover board crowd and work out the conflict of using a hover board sparingly while keeping up my step counts to make sure I stay healthy.

Published by

Tim Bajarin

Tim Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc. He is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin has been with Creative Strategies since 1981 and has served as a consultant to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry including IBM, Apple, Xerox, Compaq, Dell, AT&T, Microsoft, Polaroid, Lotus, Epson, Toshiba and numerous others.

2 thoughts on “The Most Interesting Gadget Fight this Holiday Season”

  1. I’ve seen a couple in Taipei on the street. They doo look interesting. It would be great to have one here since people are used to sharing the sidewalk with everything from stray dogs, walkers, bikes, and scooters!
    I took a couple of tours on Segways and found it fairly tiring after a couple of hours. I wonder if this would be better? And could I get up the hill near my house on the walk to work?

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