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Smartwatches
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Topic by: Cyrris
Posted: Mar 24, 13 - 12:44 PM
Last Reply: Oct 21, 15 - 6:41 AM
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Author Smartwatches
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He Leg
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There's been talk of an iWatch for some time now. More recently there's been news (ranging from speculation to confirmation) of other companies such as Google and Samsung looking toward a smartwatch as well. Even Mozilla seems to be on board with Firefox-OS powered smartwatches now in the news.

I find it interesting that so many companies appear to be on this bandwagon when no-one has seen whether or not they'll actually be popular. At least with the all-touch smartphone, Apple had a clear lead when the iPhone first came out, and the popularity of it was reason enough for others to start jumping. This time the only thing even close to that is the crowdfunded Pebble, but the other manufacturers were clearly already going for it before the Pebble was released.

I can't see myself using one. I was glad to be rid of my watch, tearing at the hairs on my wrist as it did. I am sure many people don't have such a problem (and I could have swapped it for a watch with a leather strap instead of metal links), but at the same time, the ubiquity of the smartphone just makes me wonder why a watch would be desirable. The functions are essentially the same. People want fewer devices on them don't they? Not more. Yes, the previous generation iPod Nano wrist straps looked kinda cool at the time, but I've actually never seen anyone in real life wear one that way.

I can't help but feel it's like the 3D TV happening all over again. After the success of HD screens, the manufacturers all thought 3D would be the next big thing, without much data indicating that would be the case. Sure enough, it's remained mostly in a niche. People don't want to wear silly glasses to watch their DVDs. Is there something about smartwatches that I am missing, which makes them worth all these millions of investment dollars?

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Plenty of people are concerned with status. Apple is great at meeting that demand. Their devices are always amongst the most expensive in their category. I'm convinced the status-factor has been a huge part of Apple's success over the last couple of years.

And that's precisely why the iWatch will fail.

You see, when it comes to watches, they will not only have to compete with smartphones (which will always win in the functionality department, if only because they're bigger and not attached to your wrist), but also with the entire luxury watch industry.

Smartwatches will have to be cheaper than their companion smartphones. They'll simply seem ridiculous otherwise. That, however, will automatically mean that as watches, they'll fall into the "cheap watch" category, as anything below $500 is considered "cheap" by most watch enthousiasts.

I like watches. I own several and never leave the house without one. I also love gadgets and have been an "early adopter" plenty of times. I'm probably exactly the type of consumer they'll be aiming for. And yet I don't see myself getting one.

Yeah, they will fail.


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Paleo Wannabe
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It took me a couple of years to get my first smartphone. And a while to get an iPhone (my first one is a 4S). What kept me from getting one was overcoming my fear of losing the one device that carries practically all your info, and a costly one, to boot. I used to think iPads were a dumb idea. I got one as a gift an while I do like it. I keep it stationary at one place. I think it's dumb to go everywhere with it since the phone can take care of the "on the move" issues. So, what's my motivation to get a watch?

So far, none.

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I don't think it's a fad. It's not going to be a reinvention of the watch, it's just another use of wearable technology.

Nike's Fuelband is a huge, huge hit. Pebble was a massive kickstarter success. The Lunatik band for iPod Nano (6th gen) sold well too.

People thesedays take their phones out of their pocket to look at notifications, read messages, check the time, etc. The simple act of fishing it out, unlocking it and accessing the app is a user experience issue. It's minimal, and to desire anything quicker may be considered lazy, but if you solve that "issue" it will sell.

I imagine Apple's idea for a wrist device aims to do a few things:

  • Pair with your phone
  • Have a microphone so you can automate actions through Siri
  • Tracks activity data in the same way Fuelband does
  • Displays minimal information (can't be too big)

Given their price record I imagine none of this would be cheap, so the best thing they could do to make this work is offer app integration. Letting others use your movement/location data could be pretty big, if it doesn't drain the iPhone too much from syncing. The 'fashion' element is another reason it will sell too - if it looks amazing, it's a swaying factor.

I have heard theories that 'iWatch' is a smokescreen of a name, and they don't intend to do a watch, but it's going to be the name for their television. It would make sense considering they don't want to be confused with 'Apple TV' (the small unit) and they don't have the rights for iTV in the UK.

If Apple thinks it will fail, they won't release it. I can't remember the last time they launched a dud.


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He Leg
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In Reply To #4

I think people in general are after fewer devices to wear every day, not more. My understanding of Nike's Fuel band is that it's a specific product for a specific use, unlike a smartphone which has become an extension of ourselves.

For a smartwatch, regardless of vendor, you're trying to market something you want people to wear as often as they carry their smartphone - whenever they're out of the house, whether you plan on doing physical activity or not. It's another thing to have to charge regularly, but most importantly it's just doing things which other devices do better anyway, or at least do well enough to not require spending money on something ever so slightly better.

I don't question Pebble's success, but it's important to see it for what it is. They were crowdfunded because their attempt at securing venture capital failed to get interest. They are shipping 15,000 units a week, which sounds great for a startup, but how will that scale once they've satisfied demand for all the geeks who funded it, and their friends? When we talk about changing norms in how society uses technology, it's up to the big players. So it's really going to be about how many millions of smartwatches that Samsung, Google, and Apple(?) are shipping a couple of years from now. I'll honestly be surprised if it's a lot. They're have to really hit it with features that are genuinely better on the wrist than coming from an already integrated device in the pocket.

If it turns out Apple debuts a kick-ass spin on the television while its competitors are all stuck developing mediocre watches with mediocre demand, I will have to congratulate them on such a well-played hand.

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In Reply To #4

You do make a good point in favor of the wearable device. But as you say, battery life (already an issue with iphones) would probably take a nasty hit.

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Why Did I Do That?
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Personally I like the fact that when I leave my computer I'm disconnected from technology. I can't stand smartphones or tablets at a personal level. For a professional level too, they're fucking great...but for personal use...screw it.

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Hardflip wrote:
I imagine Apple's idea for a wrist device aims to do a few things:

  • Pair with your phone
  • Have a microphone so you can automate actions through Siri
  • Tracks activity data in the same way Fuelband does
  • Displays minimal information (can't be too big)

This actually sounds quite a lot like what Google's doing with Project Glass. I have to admit, I would *love* to have a Google Glass-type device integrated in my normal glasses.


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Unimaginative Pseudonym
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I'd be much more interested in 'smart' devices if batteries weren't so so so so shit.

I know it's kind of a chemistry problem so I should be blaming chemists (not me, I hate titrating) and not engineers / designers, but if we could stop inventing more things that could potentially be brilliant if they didn't have to constantly be plugged in and recharged, BEFORE fixing the battery life issue, that would be great.

Until we get better batteries, I can't look at any new product without sighing massively and thinking about how much of a ballache it'll be to use.

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Paleo Wannabe
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This sounds like a proper smartwatch. One of my iPhone apps just upgraded to make it "Pebble functional".

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@sansturbot


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He Leg
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I suppose today is an appropriate day to bump this topic, given Samsung's new release. It is actually quite a bit chunkier and uglier than I was expecting. It's certainly not going to have the swish-factor that Hardflip mentioned will likely help any iWatch-type thing from Apple in future.

It needs to be much thinner, have a curvier screen, I think it could do away with the camera entirely... then then you might have something that at least looks good, even if it isn't too useful.

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In Reply To #11

Physically, it doesn't look that bad. It kinda reminds me of a watch that Kenneth Cole did a couple years ago. Except that it had a leather strap. I guess I could wear one in black.

What doesn't have me sold is the interface, and I do agree that the camera could be removed.

I still like the idea of the Pebbl watch better because that one is, supposedly, going to work with different OS. Seeing how I don't have any Galaxy devices.

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More than anything Apple released the last year or so, this outlines why Apple is where it is today...

Time and again, they have taken an existing idea and shaved and polished untill it was absolutely spot on. I had an IPAQ five years before the first iPhone, so it was anything but new, but they were exactly when and where they had to be.

A smartwatch is anything but new, but Samsung did their very very best and ended up somewhere... nice. Apple takes a concept and nails it. Samsung took it and produced something that isn't all that bad.

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He Leg
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Well, now the Apple Watch has been out for a while, I am going to just say: my opinion has not changed.

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I grabbed a Moto 360 when they came out, I love it.

Battery life was my only real concern, but I'm usually up at 8am and wearing it through to 2am and it's still got 25% left before I sit in in its dock to charge overnight.

Worth the price just to have a nice, customisable watch really... but I make frequent use of the music remote, reminders, traffic prompts and fitness tracking, too.


Smartwatches
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Topic by: Cyrris
Posted: Mar 24, 13 - 12:44 PM
Last Reply: Oct 21, 15 - 6:41 AM
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Posts: 15
Page: 1
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