Why smart watches died — and what will likely replace them

If you could travel back to 2016, the hype would be palpable; smart watches were destined to be the next big thing. Apple was coming out with its iWatch. Rumors were abound that Google’s version was just on the horizon as well.

One year later, however, and the smart watch market appears to be in a downward spiral. What happened? Why did smart watches die in a time when shrinking technology was already well-established with the popularity of smartphones?

A good enough alternative

The CEO of Huawei, a Chinese consumer electronics manufacturer, was quoted saying “I am always confused as to what smart watches are for when we have smartphones.” His sentiment bore out in the marketplace as well, as consumers already grew accustomed to another timepiece in their pocket — their smartphone. From the moment one presses on the screen or power button to wake up a phone, the time is displayed in large font on the cover screen on both Android and iOS operating systems. Given that most people don’t need millisecond level access to the time, this has been more than sufficient for the vast majority of consumers.

The Millennial Gap

SmartWatches also entered the market at a bad time. Trends are going south for timepieces in general, as Millennials are the least likely of any generation to regularly wear a watch, smart or dumb. As fashion standards change and time pieces fall out of favor, watches will naturally sink with them as new luxury items like phones take hold.

Inferior to current technology

Another trend seen with smartphones is increasing screen sizes. Smart watches, however, have tiny screens. Watches are constantly worn and must be light and unobstructive. This really hurts usability in terms of screen size.

Goes against the natural market segmentation

The watch industry itself caters to low and very high-end purchases. On the low end you have brands like Timex, Seiko, and many off-brands that give somewhat accurate time but offer no prestige. High-end brands like Omega, Rolex, and a few others offer that prestige, as their offerings are exclusively multi thousand-dollar watches.

Apple and Google were both trying to sell watches in the mid-to-high hundred-dollar range. This price range was an awkward middle in the watch industry, as low end consumers didn’t want to spend that much on a watch, and high-end buyers didn’t get the prestige that the high end brands offered them.

With all of these factors considered, it’s clear to see now that smart watches were going to be a niche market at best. Apple recently reported a year-over-year sales dip of over 70% in iWatch sales. As a market leader in this new category, that’s not a hopeful sign.

From wearables on your wrist to your clothing

Fortunately, the future still looks bright for other types of wearable Electronics. Levi’s is releasing a new jacket with Google technology embedded within the clothing itself. Call the commander trucker jacket, this will enable users to compute interact with a smart device directly into their clothing. It’s a fascinating new development, and one will be watching to see if this new type of wearable clothing gained steam.

Virtual reality also appears to be ready for another shot at prime time, with the recent introduction of Oculus Rift from Facebook, and Steam’s Vive headset. This first generation of headsets are still fairly clunky and large, which makes them unsuitable for use outdoors. But with Microsoft’s entrant into the marketplace arriving soon, this may change.

Microsoft Hololens is designed for an untethered, mixed reality experience, which incorporates a virtual overlay on top of the real world. As you might imagine, the possibilities with this blend of reality are immense. 2017 will be a year to see how VR progresses from a closed, movie theater -like experience into the natural world.

Wearable technology may not have started with a bang, but it still has plenty of potential. As electronics move closer into our intimate, everyday experience, wearables are well poised to shed their growing pains and mature into mainstream use and acceptance.

Guest article written by: Sean Dezoysa writes on technology and finance as it relates to businesses. See his website at http://b2bcontent.cf

1 thought on “Why smart watches died — and what will likely replace them”

Leave a Comment

%d bloggers like this: