2014 is being dubbed the year of wearable technology with smartwatches being the main focus for many companies as their entry into this new market. Major technology players such as Samsung, Sony, HTC, LG and Huawei have launched or are in the process of launching smartwatches and fitness bands that have smartwatch functionality. There are of course also plenty of rumours of Apple and Google both entering the market even if the focus of the later is currently on Google Glasses.
There are also smaller companies who have burst onto the smartwatch scene trying to get a head start and recognition before the larger companies steal all the limelight. Of note the Pebble, Martian and I’m Watch seem to be hitting the headlines for both design and features.
My question is; who actually decided that we wanted smartwatches for all these companies to be pushing them out?
It’s similar to the fact that smartphones are increasingly growing in size because we ‘apparently’ want them larger. Personally I don’t want a large smartphone or phablet as they keep on trying to call them, I like having a 4 inch screen on a phone that comfortably fits in my pocket. I can hold it in one hand and use my thumb to reach all parts – Anyway, I am digressing and that is a whole other article.
I was keen to find out what people thought about smartwatches and whether people would be queuing up to get one. A quick poll of our office – somewhere that is generally alive with technology buzz presented a very surprising bag of answers.
The majority of answers came back that if they had to pay for a smartwatch then they wouldn’t bother or that they didn’t see the need for one at the moment. In fact only 1 person in our office of nearly 30 was interested in a smartwatch, and that was only in having the basic functionality of knowing your phone is ringing when the volume has been turned down.
A comment that rings true came back that, the number of people wearing normal watches is declining, so why would we want a smartwatch? It is true that many people use their mobile phone as their timepiece and a study back in 2010 showed that 14% of younger people felt that they no longer needed a watch – but then a smartwatch is for more than just telling the time.
Today people appear are glued to their smartphones, and this is not just the younger generation. Whether it is to consume media, be social, or play games you cannot go outside without seeing people walking around not looking where they are going, or on the bus or train it is the same, face down full concentration on a small lump of metal or plastic in one hand. So the smartwatch will notify the user of phone calls, messages as well a number of product specific actions such as heartbeat monitoring. I’ve not seen a smartwatch ‘yet’ that you can respond to messages on, so it would only mean more people glued to their phones. Do we really need this?
Are these first smartwatches even attractive enough to wear? Give me a nice Swiss made watch any day. So I want to really raise the point of do we really need smartwatches? What benefit do they provide to us as a whole?
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