2014 is definitely all about the smart watch. While there have been Smartwatch releases in the past with the Sony Smartwatch and Samsung Galaxy Gear , this year has seen a massive influx of companies jumping on the smartwatch band wagon. Google has launched Android wear, along with multiple companies producing Android Watches and now Apple has launched the Apple Watch.
So one thing is for sure, all the big players are backing this new tech, but is there really any consumer demand for it? Or is this just a market being artificially created by these companies?
From all the people we have spoken to plus general internet chatter it does appear to be an artificially created market, which we think is largely due to companies struggling. Looking at HTC they reported 83% drop in profits in the second quarter 2013 even though the HTC One was arguably the best phone of the year, and this drop in profits has been steady the past few years.
Sony also have not fared well, they have sold off its NYC HQ, a major Tokyo building and its PC business. The PS4 and recent couple of good years of mobile sales have been its saving grace.
Samsung still dominate the mobile industry and Apple are always doing well but we can’t help but think the push towards smart watches is due to technological progress in the mobile and TV market plateauing. If we look at the mobile market, it is pretty rare for a manufacturer to launch a must have phone nowadays, each launch is incremental at best with the main areas of improvement appear to be screen size, resolution and minor processing improvements. We think the only remotely interesting development in recent years (in our opinion) is the implementation of waterproofing which is hardly exciting.
Remember the days when phone launches were more exiting? Like the launch of the first colour screen (Ericsson T68), or the first camera (Nokia 7650), or one of the first successful smart phones (Nokia 6600).
Granted Apple have certainly made phone launches more exciting again but in recent years they have also become more boring and all they seem to do is play catch up with Android now. The iPhone 6 has NFC and comes with a 5.5inch option, both common place in the Android market.
TVs have faced a similar fate. HD, Plasma and LCD were all great for the market, but now everyone has a 42″+ TV with 1080p, and how often do you change your TV? We still use a Sharp Aquos that is 6+ years old and performs admirably still. 3D has been a bit of a flop, smart features are certainly a selling point, but most TVs still don’t have all the catch up channels. Then we have 4K, this is definitely the new tech companies are pushing to boost their sales again, but consumers seem apathetic towards it as it doesn’t provide a great experience improvement over HD and there is limited content for it.
So we consumer apathy towards the big selling items it makes sense that these manufacturers launch a new product to boost sales. Personally we are somewhat indifferent towards SmartWatches at the moment, we get too many notifications as it is from missed calls, SMS, Facebook, Twitter and Email. The main selling point for us is the fitness tracking aspects, this appears to be an industry that has grown. If we look at Fitbit this appears to be a company that has grown naturally through consumer demand and other larger companies have followed suit. Heart Rate tracking is certainly something of interest to us, and this has been a bit of a hit and miss area from companies such as Garmin and Polar so having a device that can monitor our heart rate without being uncomfortable and awkward would be a great option.
With the launch of the Apple Watch we think Smartwatches are here to stay for the foreseeable future but we won’t be parting with our money until they are a little more advanced and less bulky!