The smartwatch is a fairly new concept but has, so far, failed to take off in a mainstream way. And with good reason. At worst, they are utterly pointless, and at best, just a stopgap filling the void before something better and with a longer shelf-life is released. Or perhaps I’m alone in thinking this way.
The recent success of Pebble has seen many people waxing lyrical over the phenomenon. But that’s just tech bloggers, I hear you cry. Not so. They may be the ones shouting the loudest but the $10 million the project has so far raised on Kickstarter has come from a lot more than just geeks with a penchant for gadgets. These are ordinary people sinking money into a genre of product I personally cannot see the point of.
Smartwatches such as Pebble or the Sony SmartWatch are digital display devices which feed off information provided by the smartphone that accompanies them – including the time of day. Oh there’s a little more to them than that, with apps that can tell you how far you’ve run or how fast you’ve cycled. But nothing all that exciting and, crucially, nothing you can’t already do on your smartphone.
So let me get this straight. This is a watch costing $150 that will do little beyond saving me from having to fish my phone out of my pocket. And that’s it. I have to conclude this is a form factor for lazy people, those who have become so intolerant of pulling out their phone every time they want to read a text message that they would rather look at their wrist instead.
Smartwatches offer nothing beyond what we already have at our disposal apart from being an extra link in the chain.
Just a Stopgap
Even if everybody does have an innate desire to stay connected at all times so much that they feel the need to own smartwatches, I cannot see this form factor being anything more than a stopgap. A watch which still needs to be connected to a phone is only useful to a point. And it will soon be superseded by the next big thing. Like Project Glass for example.
Let’s rewind to the beginning of April for a moment and remind ourselves what future Google is imagining for us all.
Do you think anyone will be wearing a smartwatch paired to their phone when the majority of early adopters are already sporting similar tech in their glasses? I assume that Project Glass specs will eventually be standalone units replacing rather than complementing smartphones. But even if the first-generation devices, which are now already at the prototype stage and being worn by Google co-founder Sergey Brin, require pairing with a phone they’ll still be cooler than a smartwatch.
Smartwatches may be a hit on Kickstarter but for me, they’re a total nonstarter.