Monday, July 15, 2013

17 Reasons Smartwatches WILL (possibly) Work

Recently I discussed how afraid I am for the world to experience "wearable technology" in the form of smart watches, such as the rumored iWatch, the Google smart watch, or the Sony SmartWatch.  Still, with that said, ultimately I concluded that I may fall victim to the new trend if the technology advances this market as much as sources claim.  Even more importantly, if this is really to become a $50 billion market, as Business Insider suggested, I'm pretty sure quite a few others will find themselves wearing a smart watch as well. Of all the things I have read about this rumored technology, the only thing I REALLY didn't believe was this article:

The author attempts to explain why this technology won't catch on.  While I am not 100% convinced that it will either, the reasons this author gave seem completely off base.  Excuse me while I interrupt this article from Gizmodo with my own 17 reasons why smart watches just might in fact work.  Be warned: my bias/allegiance to Apple might* reveal itself.

17 Reasons Smartwatches Won't Work (Yet) by Brian Barrett - And Amanda Munsch's 17 rebuttals...

The cascade of smartwatch rumors—be they iWatch, Surface, or other—increases daily. By this point, smartwatches of every shape and stripe seem inevitable. But there are so, so many reasons why they shouldn't happen. Not any time soon, at least.  
(HMM is 6 months not any time soon?) 

To get a sense of the sheer volume of smartwatches on the horizon, you can look no further than Quartz's exhaustive rumor roundup. It's an extensive lineup of companies, each and every one of whom may want to seriously reconsider where they're headed. Here are just a few reasons why.

1. The wrist is valuable accessory space. Watches aren't just watches anymore, if they ever were. They're fashion statements in a way that today's gadgets—ooo, a black rectangle!—aren't. One-look-fits-all isn't going to cut it, and color variations don't count (looking your way Apple).
1. Fashion is prone to evolution, just like technology.

2. Too many sizes. In fact, one size doesn't fit all, either! Men and women wear different-sized watches. Beyond that, watch size is another aesthetic choice that people who wear things on their wrists care very much about. How many SKUs are these companies prepared to manufacture?
2. Have you ever heard of an adjustable strap?  Also, size preference is something that can be obtained by choosing a different company's product, just as people choose different mobile phones.

3. Which makes for terrible UI problems. Adding a micro-sized display to your platform's lineup is problematic enough on its own for apps. Allowing for displays with multiple degrees of tiny is guaranteed chaos. Scaling horrors, ahoy!
3. We search the ENTIRE web on our iPhones, read our mail, create our calendar, blog, check Facebook, create Instagram photos/videos, and you don't think we can check our e-mail or read a text from an iWatch?

4. But mostly one giant size. The obvious answer to that would be to stick with just one display size, which iWatch and Samsung and Microsoft rumors currently peg at 1.5-inches. That is a very big thing to lug around all day.
4. The obvious: big watches are in...

5. Battery life will be horrid. The sad thing is, it still won't be big enough to fit in all of the internals it needs alongside a battery that's worth a damn. While there's no way a smartwatch will be as battery-intensive as your phone, you're still going to have to plug the damn thing in every few days.
5. Solar power or Casio/Gshock Bluetooth Low Energy

6. Imagine input on that tiny display. Making your smartwatch do what you want is going to be a royal pain, unless you've got needlepoint fingers, or until voice command technology advances so far beyond where it's at today we might as well be talking about getting a few more feet of lift out of our hoverboards.
6. Removable face plate!

7. They're going to be ugly. Big might be a necessity for a smartwatch, but it's also garish in an accessory. Even the nicest-looking iWatch renders are sort of gross. And existing e-ink products aren't much better. 
7. Technology is sexy.

8. Speaking of which, this already exists.  A gorgeous, functional, cellular-powered gizmo-watch made by erstwhile hardware god Sony could have been huge. Huge! Instead, it's a gadget cold …It's pretty awful.

8. Sony is a bad example.  Pick another one.

9. And this.

17 Reasons Smartwatches Won't Work (Yet)

9. I would wear these!

10. Even Apple sort of had one. The iPod nano was the closest we've gotten to a real-deal iWatch in terms of size and functionality, especially when paired with a clever watchband. It was so popular that Apple ditched the hardware after a single generation.
10. The iPod nano was nothing like an iWatch.  It couldn't even compete against Apple's iPod.  Try again.

11. In fact, we've been doing this since the 80s. And they've all been bad. Could someone come in and reinvent the category, like Apple did with smartphones? Sure! But it'll have to be a once-in-a-generation reimagining. Maybe someone manages it, maybe not. The only guarantee is that nearly every smartwatch will be terrible for a very long time.
11. What?  Now you're absurd.  Apple reimagined far more than just smartphones.  The iPod changed how we listen to music and now the iPad has changed the way we view the internet, manage our financial portfolio, keep our family photo album on hand, update our calendar for the world to see, and so much more...

12. How much will these things cost? Oh man, are you really ready to drop $150 on yet another gadget that already does things your preexisting gadgets can? That's how much the Sony SmartWatch runs you. Even if an Apple iWatch manages to match that, it's a whole lot of change. 
12. A G-Shock Watch averages over $110... And this watch would potentially be worn by a market with extra $$$.  $150 sounds like a steal!

13. And how often will you have to get a new one? Product refresh cycles are variable, but it's safe to say that your average handheld gadget—phones, tablets, etc.—don't last you much longer than three years at most, if only because of the (non-replaceable) battery. So look forward to having to get a new watch at least that often.
13. I agree, I hate that.  But it doesn't keep any of us from getting a new phone every chance we get!

14. It's another data eater. Not to mention that a smartwatch that only runs on Wi-Fi would be effectively useless; when you're in your house or a coffee shop or another Wi-Fi accessible location, you're using other devices. So get ready to tack yet another gadget onto your data plan, unless it's pure Bluetooth (there's that battery life again) or some sort of Airplay-like ad hoc wireless hookup with your phone.
14. When has that ever stopped us from checking Facebook or Twitter? Never.

15. The smartwatch identity crisis. Is a smartwatch a souped-up activity tracker or a dumbed down iPhone? If it's the former, are we really sure that people want activity trackers on a large scale? If it's the latter, won't that be redundant? If it's a combination of both, do you go with a leather band or a rubber strap? Why are we doing this, again?
15. Redundant, maybe.  That didn't stop us from the iPad though we all have iPhones and laptops.

16. Honestly, it's the gadget version of 3DTV. All of this smartwatch build-up sounds incredibly familiar if you've been around a while. It sounds almost identical to the drumbeats that lead up to 3DTV, another product for which there was no clear demand, but companies didn't have any better ideas, so why not? Smartwatches are that.
16. Umm... nope.  These products are completely different, as are their target markets.  

17. Dick Tracy would've used a smartphone. Ever get the feeling that we're all still chasing that dumb Dick Tracy watch-phone? Forget it. If Dick Tracy were alive today he'd be using an iPhone, because it does all of the things that watch-phone did, but better. If you're going to resurrect a Dick Tracy accessory, make it the fedora.
17. No comment.

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