AH Primetime: Are Smartwatches Any Closer To Becoming Must-Haves?

When Apple launched its first generation smartwatch earlier this year, the device was met with both enthusiasm and derision in equal measure, depending on who you spoke to. While some like Steve Jobs' biographer Walter Isaacson praised it in glowing terms, others like Mr. Jean-Claude Biver, CEO of such reputable wristwatch brands as TAG Heuer and Hublot, was highly critical of the device, calling it 'feminine' and likening it to something designed by a student designer. Reviews for the Apple Watch have also been mixed to say the least. There have been multiple issues which have upset reviewers and early adopters alike. Issues such as disappointing battery life, hyperactive notifications, lack of ergonomics and general sluggishness of the smartwatch. However, all that negative press failed to deter die-hard Apple fans and the watch is said to have registered as many as 2.3 million preorders.

Since then, the aura surrounding the product has gradually faded. Sales have reportedly subsided and some analysts are worried that the Cupertino, CA-based company might actually miss the estimated 30 million sales figure that had been talked about because of all the initial success. If Apple does indeed fail to meet those estimates, some of it could eventually be attributed to supply chain issues, but the reality is, the device itself hasn't quite gotten the halo around it that you'd expect with most Apple products. Over the past couple of decades, whenever Apple has introduced a new product to the market, Apple fanatics and mainstream consumers alike have flocked to the stores to get their hands on the gadget - irrespective of the pricing or the opinions of reviewers. That includes everything from the original iPod to the iPod Touch and every iteration of the iPhone since 2007 when the first generation of Apple's famed smartphone was launched.

While the Apple Watch is still head-and-shoulders above Android Wear in terms of sales and maybe even desirability among retail consumers, it still hasn't been able to do what many industry watchers had predicted - and hoped - would happen; expand the smart-wearables market and bring the device category into mainstream public consciousness, by giving it an image makeover from its current image as a niche, geeky, redundant addition to an already burgeoning list of 'smart' devices that are infiltrating our everyday lives, to that of a cool 21st-century gadget that's a must-have for every cool kid; basically do what the iPhone did to the smartphone industry that was dominated by the straightjacketed Blackberry before Apple made it a must-have gadget for everybody from the pre-teens to the soccer-moms and everyone in between. But it will still take some convincing before most people decide to plunk down hard-earned cash to buy yet another gadget you need to charge on a daily basis, as if charging the laptop, the smartphone and the tablet weren't botheration enough.

Just because the device category is not catching on with the public and crossing over to the mainstream, doesn't mean other device manufacturers are doing nothing to propagate their own products. LG has already launched its third generation smartwatch last month and Huawei is about to make its initial foray into the segment with the much talked about Huawei Watch. Meanwhile, Samsung, Apple's biggest competitor in the smartphone space is reportedly prepping its own next-generation Tizen-based Gear smartwatch for a launch sometime later in the year. The watch is said to feature a round display with a 360 x 360 resolution, unlike the Apple Watch and includes a GPS, a heartbeat monitor, accelerometer, gyro, and pressure sensor. The industry is now hoping, that Samsung would be able to address some of the inadequacies of the Apple Watch and possibly do to the smartwatch sector, what its Galaxy Note line did to the smartphone segment since 2011. For the uninitiated, the original Note, when launched that year, was ridiculed as an oversized piece of toast because of its 5.3-inch screen size, but has since become mainstream, so much so, that even Apple had to change its tune to accommodate larger screen sizes after having steadfastly refused to go with larger displays previously. It remains to be seen whether Samsung can indeed do that or if smart wearables will continue to remain a niche product category in the foreseeable future.

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About the Author
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Kishalaya Kundu

Senior Staff Writer
I've always been a tech buff and have been building my own PCs since as far back as I can remember. My first computer was a home-built desktop running MS-DOS on which I learnt to program in GW-BASIC and my interests apart from technology include automobiles and sports.