The dumb strategy behind smartwatches

Pebble Vimeo(Image via getpebble/Vimeo)

Reading the latest reviews on the Samsung Galaxy Gear, it honestly doesn’t surprise me that the general consensus has been less than favourable, despite some nice ideas. Looking at the specs and features of each smartwatch that comes out, it’s hard not to think that companies are viewing it as a smartphone on your wrist.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing and it’s the direction technology has been heading for a while now, but it feels like those manufacturing these smartwatches have been heavily influenced by the likes of Knight Rider and James Bond Jr.

There are two main problems with this approach. The first is that there’s too great a focus on versatility instead of practicality. The aim of any wearable technology is for you to put it on and forget about it until you actually need it. If you have to be thinking about whether there’s enough charge left just to tell the time, then there’s a problem.

It’s true that the same thing happens to smartphones as well, but there’s a level of disconnect between the person and their smartphone. Putting on a watch just to take it off again on a daily basis to keep charging it is a small inconvenience, but it’s still inconvenient, especially when the functionality encourages you to wear it constantly.

The second is that each smartwatch is working in a closed garden. Samsung and Sony’s watches only link up to their own smartphones models so you’re already limited to the type of watch you can get. The closest to a proper smartwatch has been the Pebble, both for its design and ability to connect to both iOS and Android devices. Its overall use is hampered by providing this functionality, but it’s the reason why third-party companies could have a better chance of succeeding in this market.

That isn’t the worst part, unless you have it constantly connected to your phone via Bluetooth, you’re left with an expensive paperweight. It’s understandable that you need this for more advanced options like calls and notifications, but a watch that can’t tell the time without another device is a weird problem to have.

That said, it’s by trying and creating these products that we get closer to a better product, but so far it’s only Apple, and maybe one or two dark horses if we’re lucky, who have a chance to show where everyone has gone wrong. So tech companies, focus on the simple things first and create a product that you can forget about without consequence, everything else can follow later.


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