It’s strange to believe that it only took a single Apple unveil to cause this whole smart watch craze to materialize. Oh, I don’t doubt that technologists and manufacturers have been planning their own ‘enlightened’, internet-connected wristwear for some time, but when Steve Jobs came on stage to unveil the second-most recent iPod Nano, featuring a massive hinge on the back, it wasn’t long until people were speculating about the inevitable wristband accessory.
There’s obviously a market for the devices, as seen by Pebble’s record-breaking Kickstarter and in sales for iPod Nano wristbands that firm the music player firmly in place. Apple moved away from all that with their subsequent model that mimicked their original versions, but others still cling to the belief that being able to receive notifications from a quick glance at your arm is the way of the future. Now released, Pebble will have no issue selling the devices for a while, but as reviewers have noted, it’s heldback by both Apple and Android’s structures which aren’t designed to offload that kind of information to a secondary device.
In effect, smart watches are some new version of a high-end Bluetooth headset, an augmentation of the phone. But aside from the functionality it brings, these watches straddle the line between the irritation of those same Bluetooth headsets and the social class that uses them and the Palm Foleo, an awkward laptop designed to augment their phones. It’s a weird proposition that answers questions no one asked. Would you like to read a text message on your watch? Why? You’ll have to reply with your phone, anyway. Now, you could make the argument that Google Glass is in the same class and that’s a partially fair argument, but Glass isn’t running for the fences trying to be your phone’s best accessory, it’s an ecosystem all its own, and it’s that core, stand-alone functionality that gets us so excited for it.
Let’s not forget that, perhaps ironically, the smartphone killed the wristwatch in the first place. Is there such a market outside of upscale tech fans and Pebble enthusiasts that feel that someone will really bring some crazy new ideas that will turn the smart watch into an industry?
No, I don’t think so.