Time To Get A Smartwatch?
Another year and another announcement by Apple. On top of the typical upgrades to their mobile phone products (iPhone 6 and 6-plus for those not paying attention), Apple have decided to take on an emerging market and, in typical Apple style, have made a grand entrance to serve notice to the current stable of wrist-wear.
The smartwatch has been around for a few years now (actually some attempts were made in the late 90s), in their current phase the Pebble was the first to get worldwide attention (via a successful kickstarter campaign).
This was the first real effort to make a practical smartwatch. Going with the an e-ink display and simple functionality (to ensure good battery life), we were looking at the dawn of a new market.
Along with a simple bluetooth connection which allowed you to check email, who’s calling your mobile, text messages and, of course, the time.
Admittedly this is not a major development, nothing other than marginal convenience is obtained for your £100. Early adopters still sang the praises of this simple device but it’s yet to be seen commonly in the wild (I’ve seen three people with one, all at the same tech event)
THE NEXT STEP
Samsung and Sony then developed what they deemed as “true” smartwatches. NFC enabled, full colour with dedicated apps and the ability to answer and reject calls, all with your phone securely in your pocket. Both companies decided to focus on making them pair with their own mobile products (Sony’s latest effort is cross compatible but with noticeable feature loss).
Relevant: Latest wearable devices from Samsung
Again it was down to the early adopters and Samsung making deals with mobile networks to package them together. Great devices but, similar to the Pebble, never really making it past the early-adopters demographic.
It’s not the idea of wearing technology that is preventing the emergence of the smartwatch. Several wearable appcessories have made already made it to the mainstream. This is due to them being dedicated to a single function, allowing them to last long, perform well, and be reasonable in pricing.
The most common device I see on peoples wrist are the likes of the Nike Fuel-band and the various Fit-bit devices. Fitbits are less than £100 and perform perfectly well at what they do. More and more of these dedicated devices are coming to the market and I sincerely believe they have nothing to worry about, yet, when it comes to the jack-of-all-trades smart-watches. Although the smart watches do many similar functions (heart rate monitor, pedometer etc.) They are costly, bulky and don’t quite do the same job as the dedicated device.
The irony is not lost when you realise that the industry responsible for weakening the wrist-watch market, is working to resurrect it in their own image.
I, for one, will likely get a smartwatch, this is because I’m an early-adopter and I love gadgets (currently sporting a Fitbit). The price of the Apple watch will keep it from the mainstream for a while, but they always make their competitors up their game which will eventually lead these watches into the mainstream, with better features and a lower price.
Will we see the resurrection of the long lost wrist tan-line? Only time will tell.