We've been talking about smartwatches and wearable tech all year. Big and small manufacturers have already released smartwatches, and more are expected before the year ends. Some of these smartwatches are good; some are getting less than stellar reviews. With all of the focus on these devices, we haven't answered a pretty important question. Do consumers actually WANT to purchase a smartwatch?
Samsung's recent Galaxy Gear watch seems like an attempt at a pre-emptive strike against Apple's rumored iWatch. Sony has been slowly iterating on its SmartWatch line with the recent release of the SmartWatch 2. Pebble is available at Best Buy and seems to be selling well. Even Google is hard at work on a smartwatch. All of these watches have their good points and their bad. Market research firms are projecting that smartwatches are going to explode this year or next year. These firms may be wrong, if this report from the Associated Press is right.
The report concludes that consumers are not clamoring for smartwatches or any wearable tech. Instead, we are looking at manufacturers trying to find the next big thing. AP seems to think that the huge interest we are hearing about doesn't actually exist. Market research firms and tech companies are simply pushing this as the next hot thing to hit the tech world, but consumers are only mildly interested. Jonathan Gaw, an analyst at IDC, had this to say to AP:
"We've had smartwatches for a while, and while the capabilities and technology have gotten better, this is still not something that people are clamoring for. The idea that it would ramp up for the holidays was always kind of a stretch."
Gaw seems to think that the current interest in smartwatches is simply tech companies and gadget manufacturers trying to push out their own smartwatches before Apple releases an iWatch. There are a slew of smartwatch offerings currently available, but these apparently aren't getting much interest from buyers. Qualcomm has even stated that there isn't much interest in smartwatches yet.
I personally do not own a smartwatch. It's not from lack of interest, I have just been waiting for the segment to mature. So far, Pebble's offering is the most compelling to me. The Galaxy Gear is only compatible with certain Samsung devices. Sony's SmartWatch 2 is decent but doesn't have the battery life I want. In fact, most smartwatches are still lacking in the battery life department. I don't want to have to charge my watch every night. But Pebble's smartwatch is almost strictly for notifications, it doesn't run apps the way the Galaxy Gear and SmartWatch can. Maybe Apple, Google, and Xiaomi can offer us something better soon, but we don't know. Even tech-oriented consumers don't feel that the smartwatch segment is ready for prime time.
What do you think? Are smartwatches here to stay? Can manufacturers provide more value than just the flash of something new?