ABI Research (www.abiresearch.com) forecasts that Bluetooth Low Energy will dominate wearable connectivity by 2015 with a 33% share of the market, as consumers struggle to justify the added tariff cost and remain happy to rely on their smartphone as the central hub.

While the wearable use case remains nascent and unproven to the average consumer, price, battery life and component size constraints affect the viability of wearable devices having a wide area network connection.

“Wearables are not about the consumption of content, because of the small size of the screens found on most devices within this category. Wearables are about the quantified self, more than likely, communicated via Bluetooth to a smartphone to view the results and then possibly from there to a cloud-based service for aggregation and further analysis,” says Nick Spencer, senior practice director, Mobile Devices at ABI Research.

Mobile carriers therefore, need to think beyond simply connections when considering the wearable opportunity, especially if they are considering subsidy, he adds. Of the small percentage of wearables with a WAN connection forecast to be sold in 2015, LTE remains complex and expensive to integrate into the finite environment of wearable devices, so WCDMA will be the dominant wide area network in the short term.