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AH Primetime: Why are Manufacturers So Crazy about Smartwatches?

May 11, 2013 - Written By Benjamin Commet

You’ve all seen the stories. Google is working on a smartwatch, Apple is working on a smartwatch, Samsung, Microsoft and many others are working on smartwatches too. What is it about watches that has convinced companies they are so worthy of all these R & D dollars. Several companies, including tech industry magnate Sony, have even already released smartwatches. With the exception of the pebble with it’s record breaking $10.2 million Kickstarter campaign, none of these watches have had any sort of noticeable success.

3 years ago, Apple released the iPad. It was a product that achieved nearly universal mocking. Many manufacturers had already given up on the idea of a successful consumer tablet. The iPad proceeded to become one of the most successful new products of all time. Microsoft and all the other companies who could’ve made a fantastic device still feel the pain of that failure. They definitely don’t want to be caught with their pants down once again.

This “iPad effect” has made companies so terrified of missing out on the newest innovation, they feel forced to spend a lot of time and valuable development on products that they may have previously discounted. Smartwatches definitely fall into this category. Consumer demand is unproven, and no one really even knows what an appropriate amount to charge is. The Pebble and Sony watches were each priced  a bit above 100 dollars, a price that seems reasonable. I wouldn’t expect the watches coming from Apple or Microsoft (especially Apple) to even come close to hitting that low of a price point.

All the watches we have seen so far are primarily phone companion devices. When you get a phone call it can be answered or declined, text messages can be viewed and the watches with browsers can usually tether via Bluetooth and share a data connection. While some watches have limited WiFi capabilities they are essentially useless without a phone. As anybody who has tethered via Bluetooth knows, it takes quite a toll on battery life. Battery life is crucial to me, I don’t know if I would be willing to give up any to a smartwatch.

Hype seems to be the major cause of the smartphone craze. We have seen so many smartwatches in movies and TV shows, it’s nearly impossible to resist their geeky appeal. Leaders of research departments have the same weaknesses we do. They are pressured to find the next big thing and smartwatches are to hard to resist. Will smartwatches be impossible to resist for consumers? If you are going to get a watch, which company’s watch do you think will be the best? Let us know in the comments down below!