It’s been widely reported that HTC are working on a wearable piece of technology of one sort or another. First it was on, then it was off and now the project is back on again. What we don’t know is when and where, but a leak from @upleaks has given us more information about the up-and-coming HTC wearable appears to be coming to the North American market first. And rather than venturing into the competitive smartwatch area, it appears that HTC are working on releasing a sports or activity monitoring band.
I suspect that many of our readers will be a little disappointed to read that HTC aren’t working on an Android Wear smartwatch, where perhaps their beautiful design and construction methods could produce something special. There’s still scope for design brilliance in a smartband, admittedly less scope! However, for a few reasons I’d say that HTC releasing a smartband in preference to a smartwatch is preferable. The Android Wear smartwatch scene is currently very competitive with a number of manufacturers struggling to compete against one another as the products are all very similar. Whilst there are detail differences in the specification, in some cases new features are not yet supported by the software (witness Sony’s elegant Smartwatch 3, which has onboard WiFi but Android Wear doesn’t support this radio yet). One way that smartwatches may differentiate themselves is by the design, but currently we have round watches and we have squared off watches, all for sale at around the same price. And let’s not forget that Apple are about to invent the smartwatch, which is likely to disrupt the Android Wear scene for a period of time. Ultimately, it should be good news for the overall smartwatch industry but in the short term I’m reckoning that some manufacturers are going to decide to pull out of this exciting, emerging but high-risk market.
Instead, I believe we may find a clue of HTC’s intentions because of their recent partnership with athletic clothing company, Under Armour. This has already resulted in an application being released, but it would be a logical extension to include a smartband. Now, a smartband would put HTC into competition with a number of smartphone manufacturers and companies such as Fitbit and Jawbone. It’s a less risky market: one of the reasons why consumers have been relatively slow to adopt the smartwatch is because of a mix of the cost and the awkward geeky image that most portray. Activity bands are far subtle products; HTC already have some experience of the market thanks to including the Fitbit software into HTC Sense 6.
What do our readers think? Are you longing for HTC to bring their manufacturing and design expertise into the smartwatch, or do you see them as being unable to add much value because of Google’s tight control on the software and instead, you can see the benefit of an activity tracker? Hit us up in the comments below.