Feeds

back to article Time has already run out for smart watches

It's been a big year for smart watches. First, rumours that Apple glanced at its wrist and imagined what an iWatch might look like hit the web. This week at CES Toshiba showed off a smart watch, as did a clutch of aspiring watchmakers like Cookoo, Martian and I'm Watch. Then the long-awaited Pebble watch with ePaper for a face …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

FAIL

Ye gods, if ever I saw a doomed industry comment...

> Sophistication is something “clunky smartwatches simply do not convey,” she said, adding that aside

> from Japan's Casio “there is hardly interest on part of watchmakers to dabble in this area.”

Doesn't that read to you like the sort of thing that's come from thousands of executives in the past who seem to believe that their current business strategy will last for ever?

Don't get me wrong, I doubt the time has come yet, but the time will certainly come where everyone has their personal communications on their wrist, not in their pocket. You only have to look at the history of, well, clocks and watches. When it can be done it will be done. Vastly reduced power consumption and some kind of radically easier power charging regime will be the key technologies...

3
0
jai
Silver badge

Watches are already on the decline

seen as an extension of the user’s personality

this is funny - the majority of the people i know stopped wearing watches over the past 10 years or so. these days, with a decent phone in your pocket, there's no need.

In fact, the only reason i wear a watch now is because it's a 6gen iPod Nano and i listen to podcasts on it.

Yes, the big expensive shiny shiny watches are seen more as jewellery and a reflection of the wearer, but I can see smart watches unlocking the market of people who stopped wearing watches because they've no need of a time telling device when their phone will do that, and instead people who want a lightweight, convenient interface to the phone in their pocket, of which time telling is just a minor, mostly unused function... in the same way that the phone function of a smart phone is likely it's least used feature.

2
2
Thumb Up

Re: Watches are already on the decline

Exactly what i am waiting for, at the correct price and reliability, havent seen one that fits my bill yet but i am looking and WILL by one.

0
0
Thumb Down

Re: Watches are already on the decline

Jai: "this is funny - the majority of the people i know stopped wearing watches over the past 10 years or so. these days, with a decent phone in your pocket, there's no need."

I see this line a lot but I can't help feeling that there's probably a reason why fob/pocket watches (lovely as they are, and I've got three...) were replaced by wristwatches for everyday purposes...

Incidentally today I'm sporting a discrete, tasteful self-winding Omega which was built in 1967 - it cost me ~£40 from eBay as a non-runner, ~£60 for a clean and service by a local watchmaker (good quality mechanical watches are surprisingly difficult to kill), it's not ostentatious enough to make me look like I'm trying to make some kind of point with it, I'll never find myself sitting next to someone with an identical model, it gets nods of appreciation from watch geeks, and given modest care and a simple basic (clean and lubrication) service every few years it'll be running just as well and looking just as good long, long after I'm dead. Not sure you'll be saying the same about modern mass market electronic watches (smart or otherwise) - if nothing else replacement battery availability is likely to leave a lot of them as display only items...

3
0
Silver badge

Re: Watches are already on the decline

>I see this line a lot but I can't help feeling that there's probably a reason why fob/pocket watches (lovely as they >are, and I've got three...) were replaced by wristwatches for everyday purposes...

Well said. Yoinking a phone out of your pocket just to tell the time is awkward.

My watch is 1969 Omega Chronostop, their attempt at a budget range at the time. My dad bought it off a bloke in a pub, so it's a family heirloom.

2
0
Go

V.A.T.S. Optional

I want my Pip-Boy 3000 now!

http://fallout.wikia.com/wiki/Pip-Boy_3000

4
0
Boffin

Watches are a Status Symbol?

No, for most people, a watch is a way to easily tell the time. They are a status symbol of you are a douche bag who is compensating for a certain something being below average in size (do you drive an Audi TT as well by any chance?). But in that case you won't buy one of these until everyone's got one anyway.

No, this is a geek toy and will be for some time. So fix the battery issue then maybe it'll take off. It'd be kinda handy to be able to see text/IM/email and appointments without having to get the phone out.

7
4

Re: Watches are a Status Symbol?

Your post oozes jealousy. People who ascribe physical traits to others who drive nice cars obviously have some issues of their own.

1
7
Anonymous Coward

Re: Watches are a Status Symbol?

No it's a well known fact that men who drive overly flashy or large cars usually have tiny genitalia*. Me, well I drive a Matiz... ;)

(*Whether or not it's true this is genuinely what the rest of us think about you, as you parade around in your large penis-cars. In truth I drive a tiny car because I'm poor... it's purely coincidental that I have a huge willy)

6
1
Silver badge

Re: Watches are a Status Symbol?

I drive a larg(ish) car because I drive on country lanes and have seen what "small car vs large tractor" looks like, as well as experiencing "small car vs deer jumping out of a hedge".

My car would still lose, but I might be alive when they cut me out of it and these days the deer bounce off the sides, rather than squash the car (deer have got to be the second stupidest animals on rural roads, after pheasants. Why is running towards something dangerous a survival trait?)

0
0
Silver badge
Pint

@ Alan Brown

Here in Australia we don't have deer, at least not in the wild. What we have instead are kangaroos and wombats. Kangaroos are about the same mass as deer (at least the big grey plains ones are) but, unlike deer, they tend to stand upright, like people. Which means that when you hit them at speed, they are much more likely to bounce over the bonnet and smash through your windscreen than simply mangling your radiator and front end, with obviously deadly consequences.

And wombats are just evil. About the size of a stocky fox terrier, they look deceptively small and vulnerable, but they have the structural solidity of a large house brick. If you hit one, it will rip out your sump, gearbox, tailshaft and/or diff, and walk away without a scratch, leaving you with a written-off car and a very long walk home!

0
0

niche market?

"He therefore predicts only niche sales for smart watches, comparing them to e-readers as a product category that might make sense to a small market for a short time"

Is he on about the kindle style of e-reader market? Because that was hardly a small market! The reason it might have fizzled out a bit is because everyone's already got one!

2
0

Re: niche market?

I'm planning on buying a Kindle Paperwhite although I already have an iPad.

Maybe I'm a part of a not-so-average group of people, but to many of my friends/acquaintances e-readers make a lot of sense.

0
0

Pebble at last

At long last I have a date for the start of shipping for my long awaited Pebble.

It has been a fascinating journey following the design and manufacturing process through in the mean time however.

I think they have it as right as can be for now. Rather than try and emulate phone functionality on a colour screen that lasts a day tops if used with the phone it is designed as a watch with interaction features. One that you can swim lengths with as well.

0
0
Pint

All the current smart watches I have seen tend to be clunky both in operation and design.

Now they were able to manuafacture a round oled colour screen with a high enough resolution then the smart watch could be designed to look just like a traditional watch and the screen could emulate a watch face of any design when not being used for it's smart capabilities (e.g. reading sms, emails, calendar appointments, etc).

Sort out the battery life and make a ring of solar cells around the bezel (blend it into the design) for charging on the go. Make it waterproof for use in all weathers or in sports such as swimming. Make it eather touch screen or have buttons that also blend into the desn.

Do all this and maybe, just maybe, you would be onto a winner. For this to happen companies from both technology and watch design/manufacture would have to come togther.

I see smart watches as being a logical step in technology to make both communication and data even more accessible in all situations.

2
0
Silver badge

Why bother emulating real hands? Plenty of existing watches place LCD elements over real, analogue hands. At CES this year was a company touting electronic windows blinds, so a switchable opaque layer can be used, too. The display does NOT need to be in colour.

0
0
Thumb Up

Having an opaque lcd layer over a real watch could cause the watch to become more bulky. The watch would have to have the read watch gubbins and mechanisms along with the smart watch electronics and a suitable battery to power the whole thing for a resonable period of time.

Simpler to just have a smart watch that can emulate a real watch therefore saving the space used by the real watch mechanisms allowing the design of the watch to be no bigger or bulkier than current watches but still have all the functionality of a smart watch.

0
0

This post has been deleted by its author

Silver badge

Some confusion here

I think a lot of the comments here are confusing "geek cool" with "fashion cool". Yeah, there's some overlap, as we saw with the iPhone in it's earlier incarnations, but on the whole they are very different things.

Now, personally, I would view a detailed 1:72 scale model of Serenity as pretty darn cool. However, 95% of the population would strongly disagree. It should come as no surprise that the 5% are disproportionately represented here.

1
0
Bronze badge
Coat

"Euromonitor's head of consumer electronics, Loo Wee Teck, feels the smart watch market just won't happen."

It's not April already so is there really someone called low tech who doesn't see a future for these?

2
0
Happy

Or perhaps we can discount his comments because Loo Wee Teck is a toilet design technician :-)

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Loo Wee is a pretty funny name... ;)

1
0
Anonymous Coward

You should meet his brother Loo Poo Teck - he was the second child

0
0

Only Apple can decide if tehy want to deliver the required info

Imho, the analysis is nonsense, though the conclusion appears correct. What people really want and need is a copy of their iPhone's "notification system" on a watch, that presents the information in an abridged, legible form. None of the watches presently offered or announced have this.

Why? Because the notification information is simply not output by the iPhone. Only some info, like SMS and caller ID, are transmitted via Bluetooth, in order to interact with hands free systems.

And the only company who could change that is Apple. Hence, it is Apple's responsibility to develop an appropriate watch or movement with the needed functions.

Only by this approach, all new apps that deliver information via the notification system could automatically be integrated into the watch's functionality.

By providing a movement instead of a complete watch, watchmakers would be enabled to integrate such movements into complete watches, from the cheap 300 Dollar Timex variant, to the 5000 Dollar Panerai variant; including individualized clock faces in the individual watchmakers' layouts.

0
0

Re: Only Apple can decide if tehy want to deliver the required info

Well, with the Pebble there is an API. You can tell it to get anything that the phone side application has permission to access. It can tie in with applications and it is the watch's phone side software which does the transmission via bluetooth.

Don't forget that these things aren't just for iPhones they are for smartphones in general. There is no way Apple can decide what information can be retrieved from and Android phone.

If apple refuse to let applictions have access to the information that would make these watches useful it is their loss. I am assuming it is possible though.

2
0
Silver badge

Actually...

"Functionality-aside, a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication"

What that sort of watch is, is a way to tell that you're dealing with a dickhead.

4
0

Re: Actually...

Think he's been reading (or worse) the Rolex catalogue a few too many times - 27 jewel movement, waterproof to 300m (despite the fact it's never likely to go more than 3m) and an expression of your individuality... ahhh that's better.

0
0

No-one wants smart watches?

The article wrote: "But that begs a question about just why anyone is targeting a market with products it seems no-one wants?"

No-one wants? If that's the case, why did the Pebble Bluetooth Smart Watch kickstarter gain more than 70,000 pledges and more than $10,000,000 in funding?

Personally, I'm not interested in them - but to say that no-one wants them is clearly untrue.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: No-one wants smart watches?

"No-one wants? If that's the case, why did the Pebble Bluetooth Smart Watch kickstarter gain more than 70,000 pledges and more than $10,000,000 in funding?"

Errr, because the kickstarter types don't know anything? I'd like to see them prise ten million smackers out of a red blooded private equity investor for this tat.

0
1
Bronze badge

Re: No-one wants smart watches?

One of the things which the development of capitalism did was make risk taking affordable. Those kickstarters are taking a risk they think they can afford, with the chance of getting a good return.

Who can afford to lose ten million? That's averaging less than $150 per pledge, which is currently around £100, and that's a bet a lot of people can afford to lose.

Kickstarter is doing what the stockmarkets originally did, and is maybe a bit too much like the days of the South Sea Bubble, but I've heard a good many claims that Wall Street and The City aren't willing to take risks, Kickstarter is at the other end of the scale, and the venture capitalists somewhere in the middle.

It could turn into an element of a varied investment portfolio. Some money going into reliable investments some going into high-risk funds, some into Kickstarter. It might be more fun taking your own decisions too. Just don't risk what you can't afford to lose.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: No-one wants smart watches?

"One of the things which the development of capitalism did was make risk taking affordable"

As preceding AC, I take your point, and it is a very, very good one. No real, new companies can now afford to go to the stock markets to raise equity. It's only when you've either got plenty of money (or users, in the case of Farcebook) that you go to the capital markets, and that's why the stock markets are just secondary markets - people swapping in and out of established investments, which is OK, but doing little to finance new ideas or new businesses.

I hope that Kicktarter and its ilk become more and more significant, to counterbalance the weight of City/Wall St corporations, but realistically, crappy asleep-when-you-really-need-them regulators like the FSA and SEC will be busily eyeing up these schemes, and looking for a way to bureaucratise them to death.

But saying that, it doesn't make the kickstarter pledgers any good at spotting a good idea.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: No-one wants smart watches?

>But saying that, it doesn't make the kickstarter pledgers any good at spotting a good idea.

And when they floated the WWF, many of the Wall Street types thought the wrestling was real... : D

0
0

Re: No-one wants smart watches?

>>Errr, because the kickstarter types don't know anything? I'd like to see them prise ten million smackers out of a >>red blooded private equity investor for this tat.

But a load of people have ALREADY PAID FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY WANTED THEM! It doesn't matter if "kickstarter types don't know anything". They still wanted the watch, didn't they? Which clearly means that it is not true that no-one wants them. Surely this is trivially obvious?

0
0
Bronze badge

Some of us like watches...

...because of the huge variety in how they look (the jewellery factor I suppose) AND in the technology they use. I have a 70s style LED, 80s style LCD, kinetic analogue and automatic analogue. I'm interested in other technologies and smart watches are just another thing to consider adding to my little collection. But I realise it's a minority interest and so they won't become mainstream without much better battery life and probably better thought out interfaces/functionality.

2
0
Anonymous Coward

I stopped wearing a watch in the 1990s when I got a car. A watch is slightly more important when you're a slave to pubic (oops, missed the L) transport schedules.

Now a watch with a decent set of location based services would be useful. It could tell you where the nearest bus home is, the train station is, maybe call for a cab.

But apart from that, I can't really see much use for one. Too small for almost all modern smartphone features.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Also, useful for those who are confused or forgetful. People with early stages of dementia or other memory issues. It could help them get home.

0
0
Holmes

Everyone said the iPad would fail

but it had an Apple logo on it, so it sold like hot cakes. Normal laws do not apply.

0
0
Bronze badge

Casio

I wear a watch. I've worn the same watch since I was a kid. It's a Casio W-59. In fact, I've never worn any other sort of watch, except other Casios that look identical but that have different backlights (and they do a model that does the MSF radio-clock time-setting, I believe). Every single example of that watch I've worn has lasted 3-4 years and then the strap breaks and I buy another. I have a drawer full of the mechanisms with no straps on them that are STILL WORKING 10+ years later with no battery change (and changing the battery probably costs as much as a replacement even if it does ever happen). It shows me hour, minute, second, day-of-week, and date-of-month at a glance and has a little light so I can see it in the dark. When I was younger, I could read books in bed in complete darkness by the tiny light it gave out. I can set an alarm if I've nothing else on me capable of doing so. It's waterproof and pretty damn solid (even the strap, which takes YEARS to give out) so I've never managed to do any damage to or lose one from my arm even when swimming and forgetting it's there.

And how much do I use it? Barely ever. In fact, I put it on every day and probably spend more time over my life putting it on and taking it off than I ever do looking at it, but I miss the weight of it if it's not there.

Actually, I probably spend longer adjusting my watch once-every-six-months or so to make sure it's on "my time" than I do looking at it. Why do I carry it? Sheer habit. When I was younger I used it all the time for school. When I go to job interviews, I like to have it there to make sure I'm on time. Every other time, I don't use it and have actually pulled out a smartphone before I've realised that I'm wearing it (and, bear in mind, I've worn one every day for the past 15-20 years). I have a bad memory and so have a morning routine which involves the watch and, also, a pat-and-count of my body to make sure I have taken everything (without which, I would end up driving miles to the shops and not have my wallet on me when I get there, quite easily).

Watches are inconvenient. If you wear long-sleeves, you have to pull them up to look at the screen. You have to sacrifice the usefulness of both hands to check the time, in that case. You have to put them on and take them off and be used to them being there (I have caught mine several times on things when working around the house and given how long I've worn them, that's quite telling).

I work in front of a machine that displays the time, in an office with a clock, on an office phone that shows the time, with timed bells (I work in a school). At home, I have a machine that displays the time, a clock that displays the time, a TV that displays the time and various ways of discovering the time otherwise (including a drawer full of watch-faces!). In the car I have a radio that displays the time and a clock that displays the time. Walking around I have a watch that displays the time and a phone that displays the time (even when locked). I don't go anywhere without both.

It doesn't mean I'm never late, or that I always know what the time is, but the time is everywhere. So my watch could easily do more and I would be right alongside that idea because I carry my watch and extraneous gubbins around with me all the time out of habit. But a watch that "does something" has been around since I was a kid - everything from calculators to measuring tapes to hidden pens to radios to TVs to - now - "smartwatches". I don't believe that people use them practically because they aren't in a convenient position for a) looking at anything without sacrificing at least one arm's position while you do it, b) hearing anything it does without it disturbing others, c) it hearing you speak, d) the size of the interface available on the watch, e) pressing buttons (which you have to do with your other hand rather than the "same-thumb" technique for holding a smartphone), f) being unable to comfortably use it once you've removed it (so that limits its ability and value if, like me, you take your watch off when your indoors).

The watch is just not a convenient interface for anything, even hands-free. Nor are bluetooth headsets, I'd like to point out, but a watch even less so (not even close enough for audio in a noisy environment, for instance). Of all the space-age tech we saw in sci-fi and Bond movies over the last 5 decades, the gadget-watch has been around the longest and enjoyed the least success. I'm not surprised watch companies won't touch gadgets with a bargepole.

Hell, I even laugh at the star-trek badge that has to be tapped to talk. I find that hilarious, given how much of a pain that must be to keep pressing (and I bet it wears a nice little hole in your nipple after a few years of busy pressing), and that's halfway between a headset and a watch for communication purposes.

Honestly, watches are fashion items and items of habit. Nobody's needed one since mobile phones, same as address books, calendars, and calculators. Making it "smart" won't make it an overnight shock success (though, obviously, you'll always sell SOME of them). In fact, all it will do is make smartwatches things we can all laugh at.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Puzzled and saddened.

Right now, I'm being driven in my Bentley from my Fitzrovia hedge fund townhouse office to my country estate. The markets are just where I need them to be, shorting HP continues to pay handsomely, I've glanced at my IWC (the white gold Port Perpetual today, since you ask) and I'm just reading this thread on my new iPad 4.

I can't understand the bile and envy I see in these posts, I really can't. It's this sort of attitude that makes me realise how wise I am not to pay any tax here.

3
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: Puzzled and saddened.

Have you got a cousin who owns a big ranch or two in the 'states?

0
0
Silver badge

Size matters

The size of a watch is just a bit small to carry the required battery and screen. I'd rather call the future device an 'electronic cuff', kind of an ultra-wide cuff of the jacket carrying the flexible interactive screen.

Better still would be a holographic display, beamed by laser directly into the retina.

1
0
Megaphone

Sony SmartWatch is fab

I have a Sony Smartwatch connected to my Galaxy S 3.

It works brilliantly. A discreet vibration on my wrist and I can see who's calling me, and accept or reject the call, I can read my texts, I can read the first few sentences of my Gmails, and i can view my missed calls - all without touching my phone in my pocket. There are loads of other apps available for it too, you can go mad. It tells the time too...

I honestly don't know why it isn't more popular, and more people aren't talking about it.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

disclaimer

I am a little bit of a clock nut- inherited from my grandfather who calibrated Rolexes for amusement. My ordinary watch is a cheap mechanical Seiko. No battery, and graceful degradation unlike battery watches and phones, which are either right or stopped.

For time telling when out in the country, the mechanical watch still has the highest confidence factor.

0
0

Revenue estimates

"the global watch market is worth $US56bn"

Though $US55.9bn of that will be made selling useless insultancy reports to gullible watch manufacturers.

0
0
Stop

WTF

I want a watch to tell the time, nothing more, so my trusty mechanical, as in wind up Aviator Chrono will do nicely. besides it doesn't need charging it winds it self as it is worn.....

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.