Earlier this week, a report from the IDC came out that did not make for pleasant reading for Android Wear manufacturers and smartwatch brands in general. The general gist of the report was that nobody other than Apple was really making much money or shifting many units in the smartwatch world. There was one surprising takeaway from all of this, however, and that was the fact that Garmin has seemingly leapfrogged the rest of the competition and taken around 20 percent of the market during Q3 2016. One area that appears to be taking off is Hybrid Smartwatches, devices that look and feel just like a regular watch, but offer enough smart features to feel connected and new. With new watches from Misfit, Emporio Armani and Fossil, these devices appear to be gaining in popularity, but are they worth it?
The recent Misift Phase, announced for $175, earlier this month appears to be a prime example of what people want in a Hybrid watch like this. A sub-$200 price tag is very competitive, and while they might not offer the same sort of heart rate monitoring or GPS that a full blown smartwatch or fitness tracker could do, not everyone is interested in those features. The Misfit Phase – as well as other Hybrids – boasts a six-month battery life, all while tracking steps and sleep, as well as offering some sort of notification support. Fossil is approaching this new market in a big way, and will be pushing their brands, such as Michael Kors, Diesel and Emporio Armani to offer Hybrid watches that offer a little of everything.
With prices ranging from $150 to $300 though, are these Hybrids really worth it? Surely, a low-cost smartwatch such as last year's Moto 360 or Huawei Watch would offer much more for users? Given that the market is now ramping up production of these Hybrids, the answer could be a firm no. The likelihood is more that the market is simply diversifying. There's no one size fits all when it comes to wearables, and while the majority of users willing to spend $200 to $300 on a wearable are happy to purchase a fitness tracker that does something a little extra, such as the Fitbit Charge 2, the Fitbit Blaze or a Garmin VivoSmart, there's room for another type of device. Hybrid smartwatches are likely to appeal to older users, as well as the fashion conscious that don't find bulky smartwatches or fitness trackers all that attractive. Whether or not these new devices are worth the asking price will be up to you, but it sure looks as though the market is betting big on them.