It seems every few days another tech publication or an analyst is trying to scare monger about the future of smartwatches. Now, I’m not suggesting that the category is flying along at a great pace, nor can we avoid the apparent lack of current devices, however, there is a very real phenomenon in culture where if you say something enough people will start to believe it, especially when those doing the talking are influential.
I have to admit, I love my smartwatch, I have always worn a watch and carrying a smartphone didn’t change that. When Android Wear became a thing I immediately imported a Moto 360 from the USA and I’ve never looked back. Yes, I am a massive nerd, but I find that the Smartwatch is a fantastic ACCESSORY for my phone and greatly enhances the overall control and interaction with my digital life.
Unlike the smartphone that moved into the market and filled a complete void, the smartwatch is emerging into a space where their existence is supplemental, not central. Perhaps this is the issue, are those espousing the failure, and even those creating the devices, looking to create something as big and successful as the smartphone? Because if they are then yes, it has failed to achieve that, and likely always will.
It’s undeniable that smartwatches are not as successful as many people, myself included, may have been hoping for but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a valid category that deserves development. I think many companies would give their CEO’s right leg to have a business as profitable as just the Apple Watch business would be within Apple, now Apple has a special kind of groupie and as a fashion/ status brand their performance is more emotional than a sign of ultimate success, but still that business would bring in a tidy profit.
What does Android Wear need to survive?
I think that answer is simple. Android Wear needs Google, specifically Google’s hardware division led by Rick Osterloh. Google needs to commit to the hardware platform, not just the software. They need to say upfront we will be releasing Android Wear devices for 3 ? 4? 5? years. They need to show other OEMs, developers, and consumers that they are committed to both the hardware and software platform for the mid-term and that it’s safe to invest in the category.
The Smartwatch category is in a difficult space, in a world where we are already buying new phones every year or two not many people are going to want to add a new watch to their expenses. Hopefully, the technology platform can become stable enough that users can get more than a year or two use out of a smartwatch? Could modularity become the successful model? Keep the case and swap out the innards?
Whatever the future holds I wish people would stop trying to kill the smartwatch with headlines and snark. Yes, the smartwatch category, like all things, needs to be critically evaluated but when you’re in an industry like tech with such a vast range of measures for success perhaps it is the measure and not the performance that are failing? Smartwatches were never going to be the next smartphone, and wanting them to be is just plain stupid.
Where do you stand on Smartwatches? Are you a fan wanting them to succeed or a skeptic waiting to be shown why you “need one”. Let us know below.
I could say the same thing about tablets and all the tablet eulogies doing the rounds, including on Ausdroid. Tablets and smart watches will continue to be a thing and they will also likely continue to not be wildly successful. But I guess that’s not a headline that gets clicks. On smartwatches, I’ve loved my Huawei watch for the year I’ve had it, but I use a lot of Google services and products it integrates well with, so I might get more out of it than others. Either way, as long as they don’t kill the platform (which as you… Read more »
Agreed, I also use a tablet, two of them in fact daily. measuring anythign against the smartphone is pointless, help consumer PC’s don’t sell as well or as profitably as iPhone’s, expecting them to won’t help the platforms or form factors.
I think there are a few issues they need to solve before they really take off: 1. They need to look better. There isn’t a smartwatch out there the doesn’t look like a smartwatch. This is subjective, but most watches are round for a reason. But even those that are round are thick and look weird. And those without an always on display look particularly odd as most of the time they look like a big blank piece of black glass. 2. They need to be substantially better than fitness trackers to justify the cost. Here’s the main issue I… Read more »
1. Take a look at the ZenWatch 3, you still may not like it’s style but it addresses those issues.
2. Yes, The value proposition is an issue and yes Google Fit is a red hot mess.
3. Yep, not really sure how to solve this, cheaper watches would be crap, but longevity is an issue.
I think there’s a real risk that if Google were to enter the smart watch market in the same way they’ve just entered the phone market with the Pixel, all their partners would abandon the platform. Google was able to enter the smart phone market because it’s matured. Samsung is established and companies like HTC, Sony, Motorola, LG, Huawei, etc are all hanging in there. There’s also the side issue that Android is so massively fragmented that Google was compelled to enter to fix things. The smart watch market is entirely different. Every hardware manufacturer barely has a foot in… Read more »
Seems your were on the money, Google’s wear efforts will be more Nexus like
I’ve been wearing one since the Gear2. Gear S2 next. Now the Gear S3. I’ve always loved the experience of not pulling my phone out for notifications and unimportant calls. A lotta times taking calls, too, without disturbing or annoying anyone. They’re expensive but I don’t spend money on anything else.
I really like my Huawei. I like answering my phone on my wrist if my phone is inconvenient. I like voice to text. I like Google maps on my wrist. I wish Facebook would show the images (I don’t care if it’s cropped). Little less swiping would be appreciated. And shortcuts from watch face to key applets.
Smartwatches are a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
So are neckties, those spinning things on fancy car wheels, and just about every other accessory.
What’s your point?
I’ve been wearing a pebble since the kickstarter edition. I currently alternate between the time and the round. I love having a smartwatch and don’t plan to stop wearing one.
Good article. Thank you. I bought my first smartwatch as an expensive experiment. I wasn’t sure whether I would stick with it but now I don’t go anywhere without it. I’ve had two Pebbles and now the Huawei Watch. It’s been a great personal journey and it completely amazes me that people can talk about smartwatches being ‘useless’. Thank you again for this article.
I love my LG Urbane 1st edition but even though I have always worn a watch, I find the need to charge it every night a bit of chore. I’ve actually just left home to spend 6 nights away and left my smartwatch on my bedside table. I’ve got my Casio dumb watch on ATM so it should be an interesting experiment to see if I miss it. That is of course unless my wife or Santa bring me a new smartwatch for Christmas ?
Don’t have a smart watch and feel no great need to get one. I find the functionality of a smart phone more than enough to navigate digital life, that I simply don’t need to be as permanently online as a smart watch would allow, and in any case am very much attached to a couple of old analogue watches I own. Quality analogue watches are the original desirable gadgets, and are things of beauty in their own right – technically and aesthetically. Just wanting to provide a counter point to what I suspect will be a chorus of fanboy comments.… Read more »
How’s the weather up there? Good?
According to my smartphone, the weather is fine. Thanks for asking.
Something I notice from the big American Android news sites like Android Police/Android Central/etc (especially from their podcasts) is that most of these guys sit in front of computers all-day-every-day, have a new phone every week and don’t like watches in general. They’re then whinging about how they don’t use their smart watch anymore, so the market must be dying. Of course you’re going to feel like that if all you do is focus on chat via a PC/phone, write stories and are used to getting new things constantly. It’s like the tablet market. It isn’t dying, it’s just a… Read more »
I guess you’ve missed all of the times I’ve been on the Android Police podcast and had anything to say about Wear. :p I’ve been very happy with Wear. I don’t generally recommend smartwatches (of any platform) yet because the product category and hardware are still immature and even some basic usability issues are still in flux, but I can’t picture a future where there won’t be a thriving market for smartwatches and similar wearables. The problem is that too many people expected far too much to happen far too quickly. Anybody that’s calling smartwatches a failure is like a… Read more »
Hah yea I knew one of you was a Wear advocate, hence why I said “most of these guys”. I just couldn’t be bothered to relisten to the latest AA, AC & AP podcasts again to work out who it was 😛
The Android Central guys are probably the worst for it though, as highlighted by the title of their latest podcast “Smartwatches are dead”. Some of what they said actually bugged me a fair bit. I dare say that podcast had something to do with Duncan writing this article too.
It is very easy to decry smartwatches as dead and without a use if you sit behind a PC all day and never get out in the real world.. you’re exactly right. Many tech journos overseas seem to forget this.
Smartwatches aren’t dead. We just don’t need new ones every few mknthw (unless they die.. like the Moto 360v2 did.. ugh!!!)
I totally agree. Most of these blog writers carry 2 phones with them all the time (which seems insane to me), so the value of the watch is limited. To me the key is cellular connectivity. The problem with BT only watches is that you must have the phone with you to do more than tell time. I have had the Gear S, and Gear S2 3g. Once you have the freedom to leave your phone at home and run errands or do workouts while still getting and responding to notifications and creating messages, it is hard to go back.… Read more »
i couldn’t go without my smartwatch. i find myself checking my phone less often and also it is rude to check your phone a lot IMO. I even bought a cheap Sony SW3 to use on weekends and the Huawei watch to use at work. I have a couple of really good dumb watches but NEVER wear them because of the lack of functionality — especially now that smartwatches are looking much more stylish.
I love my smartwatch too. I’ve got a pebble at the moment. But I have found it’s just as rude (maybe more rude) to look at your watch while talking to someone. I’ve actually had someone ask me if I had somewhere to be. I’m liking the look of the new Huaweis.
I became aware of this very strongly the other day; I’m so used to looking at my watch to dismiss notifications and emails and only suddenly realised how it must look if I’m glancing at my watch. Not a good look at all. Depends on the situation I guess but adherence to social norms and good etiquette is very important.
Exactly. And this comes back to my long held belief that smart watches should revolve around passive information, not active notifications. I don’t want my watch bleating at me for attention. I want my watch to provide me with useful information when it’s convenient and appropriate for me to look – just like the watch that has functioned for 250 years. Google Now cards showing my next appointment, Maps directions home, music controls, health tracking and of course the time is what Google should be focusing on with Wear. Not messaging and email. Not by default anyway. If power users… Read more »
It seems kind of counter productive to just keep saying ‘well unless you are a Fanboy don’t bother buying one’. For a while the iPod was just that; only for the nerds. And then the early smartphones. I feel the smartwatch because it requires very careful engineering, design and manufacture, it has a long lead time to maturity. For me the Pebble Time2 had pretty much got there. It does everything I would want a smartwatch to do and does it, I feel, with aplomp. Really sad about Pebble. Wish it had been Google buying it out. But now my… Read more »
I was thinking this the other day, all the journalists saying how dead the smartwatch buzz is yet I still love my LG watch, I even find myself lifting my wrist to read notifications on my dumb watch! Even considering getting the Samsung Frontier.