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Dealers test the waters with wearable devices

Kathmandu, April 8, 2016: Nepali smartphone brands have initiated a market trend study and idea screening effort with the aim of venturing into the gradually emerging wearable device and smartwatch segment.

The trend analysis has been launched in line with the increasing interest in such products among tech-savvy Nepali youths and enthusiasts, sellers said.

CG Mobiles, as part of its market research, has launched a prototype smartwatch named iWear. Priced at Rs4,444, it runs on both Android and iOS platforms and features a 1.44-inch rectangular touch screen.

The smartwatch can be paired with devices supporting Bluetooth 4.0 and has an inbuilt fitness
and sleep tracker. Users are alerted when they receive notifications from Facebook, Twitter and G-mail besides phone calls and messages.

With this initiative, CG has become the first Nepali brand to venture into the smartwatch segment. However, company officials have kept modest expectations terming the gear as an experimental model.

“The market for smartwatches in Nepal is relatively small and has only started showing positive signs,” said Ramesh Shrestha, strategic unit head at CG Mobiles. “The iWear is an experiment in the segment, and CG has planned to roll out some innovative products after the market starts exhibiting positive growth.”

Likewise, Nepali brand Colors has also been planning to venture into the segment. “Our research department is working on ideas and building prototypes, and we are yet to decide whether smartwatches can offer a viable return on investment,” said Niru Dhougoda, senior marketing executive at TeleTalk.

“The smartwatch market has not yet become profitable, and we are adopting a wait-watch-go approach. But research and development has been initiated in line with the growing interest among the youth community.”

However, tech gadget reviewers and experts have argued that the smartwatch market is a totally niche segment in Nepal, and such gadgets are still portrayed as a symbol of luxury rather than productivity. Tech giants like Samsung and Apple have not yet made these items a priorityin the Nepali market as their offerings come with a hefty price tag when compared to other available options.

Users are also of the view that Nepal is not yet ready for smartwatches and innovative products as there are issues like web connectivity, affordability and usage.

As per the current scenario, most sales of smartwatches and wearable products occur on online marketplaces like Nepbay, Hamrobazaar and Kaymu which offer a wide range of such gadget at low to high prices. Currently, there are 97 products on offer in this category.