Analyst firm Gartner has said that, although sales are on the increase, smartwatches will endure a lacklustre Christmas sales period. Consumers will prefer tablets and fitness gear.
Research and analysis firm Gartner has said that the bulky design, combined with their high price and poor consumer exposure, means that smartwatches will not be the gadget of the summer. They also said that the smartwatch would remain a mobile phone companion until 2017, when it may break away from this mould and be considered a viable means of replacing a mobile phone with a wearable tech and tablet combination.
A number of manufacturers have now released smartwatches, although your definition may differ slightly from that of Gartner. The research firm state that fitness bands will remain more popular, but the functionality of many fitness bands mean that consumers may already consider these to be a smartwatch.
The watch isn’t typically designed to be used on its own, instead acting as a companion to a large screen phone or a tablet device. The Samsung Galaxy Gear, for example, pairs with a Galaxy Note tablet or Galaxy S4 smartphone. It enables users to view details such as missed calls, and it provides alerts on the receipt of new messages and other forms of communication. It does also offer some limited app capability, but is hindered in this respect by the small screen.
Another potential obstacle that manufacturers will have to navigate is design. The current form for these devices is bulky, at best, and ugly, at worst. The problem is that smartphones typically need charging every day or two, but few users will want to have to charge their watches every night. The solution, thus far, has been to utilise big batteries and this, in turn, means a big and bulky watch; effectively, it is like strapping a small phone to your wrist. What’s more, some manufacturers simply seem determined to create watches that look like they were designed in the 1980s. Retro isn’t always cool.
Conductive materials like graphene could help solve these issues, but would push the price of devices that already cost £150 or more beyond the average consumer. And price is another worry.
The idea of being able to essentially control your phone or tablet from a conveniently worn watch is an appealing one; an idea that many tech geeks are taking to, but the average consumer has yet to muster up the same level of enthusiasm.
Can smartphone manufacturers create something that is better looking, less bulky, less expensive, and more functional than the current range of smartwatches?