2015 is the year of the wearable. You might have been told it was supposed to be 2014, or even almost every year since 2010 – but no apparently it this year now. Unfortunately for those crowing about the arrival of the wearable revolution, even now there is still no compelling reason for most people to buy one.
I own and use an Apple watch, I have owned almost every Android Wear watch there has been so far, and I still can’t find any reasons for people to buy one. I am just not convinced now is the time for a smartwatch revolution. Barely a year after the launch of Android wear and we are yet to see a really great watch. Not to mention the long awaited Apple watch that was supposed to change the game still being quite mooted.
There is of course Pebble, who are still churning out watches more resembling Lego than quality craftsmanship. Granted the Pebble brand is not without its charm and CEO Eric Migicovsky is not only invested in the wearable revolution, but a down right evangelist. Confident in the fact that in the not too distant future smart watches will be as desirable ubiquitous as our smart phones are now.
“When I look five years ahead, I see computers getting smaller and smaller, and I see them really worn on our bodies. We’re going to be wearing more computers on us: I think that’s inevitable.” – Eric Migicovsky, Pebble CEO
There is only one real resistance to a smartwatch, and it’s one that was the same for the smartphone back when they were heralded as the next big thing. It’s a plain and simple question, but one that’s not as simple to answer as it might first seem – What actually is a smartwatch for?
Activity Tracking and Notifications
It seems obvious doesn’t it – despite native apps, maps and payment systems it all boils down to two things. A simple explanation of being able to see all your activity during the day and also reducing your time spent interaction with your phone. Simple and easy to understand, however that’s not a massive use case for people outside of those with one strapped to their wrist currently.
“Most people can’t live without their phones right now. In the future, we expect that people will not be able to live without their wearable.” – Eric Migicovsky, Pebble CEO
A fact shown by consideration that it took Pebble until February this year to sell it’s 1 millionth watch – despite its $10.3m and 69,000 users backing on Kickstarter. Sure 90% of Pebble users interact with notifications on a daily basis, however millions still seem perfectly happy to tap the power button every now and again, or simply react to the beeps.
Migicovsky can be as evangelical as he likes on the future prospects of the platform, and it’s understandable given it’s the sole business model Pebble has. With as many as 60% of 16-34 year olds use a phone as their primary timepiece, there just isn’t a compelling reason for an average Joe to go from no watch to a smartwatch.
Watch This Platform
The Smartwatch has uses that far exceed even those predicted by the people that put the hardware together. Both Apple and Google have relied heavily on developer creations to add fuel to demand, using “we can’t wait to see what you can do with it” PR speak more often than any other platform.
Thankfully for them that is exactly that they have done – with Glucose monitoring systems, panic alarms, games, messaging services and a ridiculous and diverse system that no one could have expected. Coupled with Twitter clients, Smartwatch Tinder and takeaway order services of course. Unfortunately the One massive problem with all usability and apps, you need your phone to do it.
All of these systems exist on the smartphone too, and in many cases are simply an extension of the app on the smartphone anyway. Sure Android wear (and allegedly soon the Apple Watch) works a little offline with Wifi abilities, but for a debatable reduction in interaction time are the costs involved worth it – many still remain unconvinced.
Unfortunately so am I, I have a use for one – but that just my activity levels that warrant it. Please don’t ask me “what does it do” next time you spot my Apple watch. Along with “do you like it” is an almost impossible question to answer. I am a smartwatch wearer, I’m just not able to sell the platform to you – and as such the general public are just not going to get it.
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