The LG G Watch was released last summer, June 25th or thereabouts and was – along with the Samsung Gear Live – the starting point for Google’s expansion into wearable technology with Android Wear. In roughly 6 months or so, it was reported by Canalys earlier this week that 720,000 Android Wear devices were shipped in 2014. A lot of people looked upon this figure and instantly thought ‘Well, this isn’t good, is it?’ and I completely disagree. Sure, that 720,000 figure isn’t impressive, it’s not even really a “success”, what it is is a start. Android Wear, or any smartwatch for that matter, isn’t going to jump off shelves at people, for a number of reasons. It’s not easy doing something new, and when you essentially have to convince the average consumer that what they have is no good any more and purchase something fairly pricey to replace it, it’s no surprise things have been relatively slow.
For a long time, there were only two Android Wear models available; the G Watch and the Gear Live. While I still wear my G Watch I’ve had since launch, I’ll admit that it’s far from inspiring to the everyday user. Waiting for the Moto 360 to arrive was perhaps the biggest thing to hurt Android Wear sales in the beginning. After all, the Moto 360 is a good-looking watch. Note that I said ‘good-looking watch’ and not ‘smartwatch’, it’s just a nice timepiece, regardless of the fact that it’s digital. Even now, there’s only six different Android Wear models to choose from, so it’s easy to see why sales haven’t skyrocketed in just 6 months.
We need to realize that this is still a fairly new category and for a long time nobody wanted anything to do with a wrist watch. Why wear a watch when my phone tells the time? Convincing people they need not only a watch, but also a screen to show text messages and things that my phone can do as well is not easy. A good friend of mine is a typical example, he’s a guy who knows his technology, yet sees no need for a smartwatch like mine. His argument is why where a watch when his phone can tell the time and why wear a watch that shows messages and apps when his phone can do all that? It’s a common argument and one that only more appealing watch designs and watch faces can overcome I think.
Better apps is perhaps more important for users like myself, but I’m already here, I get why a smartwatch is good for me. Those average users that like the idea of a smartwatch probably won’t go much further beyond the stock software offering, as such they’re looking for nicer-looking watches and a wider variety of watch faces. Both of those things are starting to arrive, and I’m sure Mobile World Congress is going to have a handful of new device offerings for us to ogle over.
With more hardware comes more choice, and with more choice comes the likelihood of more user jumping on board. Nobody wants to have the same watch as everyone else, that’s why so many luxury watch makers can afford to make so many different models. This time next year, I think that 720,000 figure will have doubled, or even tripled. Last year, Android Wear was a new product, and one still finding its feet at that. This year is the real test of whether or not people are interested, and it’s going to be an exciting year ahead for all things Android.