back to article Smartwatches: I hate to say ‘I told you so’. But I told you so.

If you work in software, I’ll bet you worked on a project like this. It’s where dozens, or even hundreds of people are involved in the spec process, and what tumbles out is a monster that nobody ever wanted. The IA-432 processor, Intel’s first pre-Itanic disaster, was a classic example. It was a tabula rasa, and every …

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  1. AMBxx Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    MS Band

    Not the most fashionable design, but MS seem to be taking an interesting route for activity/outdoors stuff with notifications from your phone.

    Latest addition to the software is 'Hiking' which neatly changes the 'Running' option to work better with longer duration.

    Could do without it nagging me about UV exposure, but I'll get round to turning that off.

    As with all these things, there are specific use cases where they're very useful. Just a case of picking the one that suits you.

    1. Mike Taylor

      Re: MS Band

      I could use a 'gardening' option on my band. Otherwise, I use it and I like it.

      1. djack

        Re: MS Band

        If there was a 'get someone else to do the gardening' option, I'd buy one right now.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: MS Band

          I have sometimes observed that people who are genuinely busy, quite often have a lot of pretty paving stones and fine gravel in their garden .... with one or two trees or shrubs ... and possibly a nice wooden bench on a patio as well ;)

    2. Steve Channell
      Pint

      Re: MS Band

      My Microsoft Band Work, just dandy, the battery last day; it monitors my heart. It reminds me right thing to do exercise and how hard I work and full of stuff like that, but most importantly for me the killer application is its got an alarm clock that doesn't wake my wife up when I have to get up much earlier than she does.

      Responding to messages with a "I'm in meeting" just using your nose (for pointer) appears surprisingly professional when you've actually recycling a vast quantity of lager... But unlikely to appear in any adverts

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: MS Band

        I still can't see it being of much use to most people.

        I can take my heart rate with my phone if I want to but unless you're in the 1% who take sport very seriously having a heart monitoring watch is not much more than a novelty...... and it's probably not accurate enough for that anyway.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: MS Band

            Sir - I believe you have found the killer app and should notify Apple at once.

      2. boltar Silver badge

        Re: MS Band

        "My Microsoft Band Work, just dandy, the battery last day; "

        Wow, a whole day. Good thing I was sitting down!

        Anyone remember when Casio et al were advertising digital watches with a 10 *YEAR* battery life? Match that smartwatch manufacturers.

        1. Steve Channell
          Unhappy

          Re: MS Band

          sorry, that's days...most I've got is three days, but it does fully recharge while I'm in the shower

          1. macjules Silver badge

            Re: MS Band

            sorry, that's days...most I've got is three days, but it does fully recharge while I'm in the shower

            Would that be due to the famous Sekonda/Rolex 'wrist action'?

        2. Sporkinum

          Re: MS Band

          25 year old Casio G-Shock on 4th battery. Have a hard time selling me a watch that I need to charge all the time and can't abuse without worrying.

        3. lawndart

          Re: MS Band

          "Anyone remember when Casio et al were advertising digital watches with a 10 *YEAR* battery life? Match that smartwatch manufacturers."

          I have one of those Casios on my wrist. The only problem I find is the straps only seem to last two years, then it is a right royal pain trying to get another because, although they all look very similar, apparently nothing else fits.

          1. cosymart
            Facepalm

            Re: MS Band

            I have 2 watches, neither of which ever need winding or charging. Why should I or anyone take a considerable number of backward steps?

            1. AdamWill

              Re: MS Band

              I'm not a huge smartwatch fan (I bought a Pebble, it was kind of neat, it stopped working properly, I never felt at all like buying another) but that's just stupid logic. Similarly we all used to have fairly robust cellphones with two week battery lives...because all they could do was make phone calls and send text messages really painfully and maaaybe, if you were lucky, play Snake. There's a small core of people who've decided that's all they want from a cellphone and who still use similar devices, and more power to them. But far far more people use relatively fragile and short-battery-lived modern smartphones, and they don't do this because they're stupid or sheep, they do it because they want to use all the capabilities they get *in exchange* for the relative fragility and short battery life.

              Similarly it's stupid to argue that smartwatches have to have the same longevity as regular watches in order for anyone to want them, because if they can provide sufficient useful capabilities in exchange for the complexity and charging, then sensible people will make sensible choices to buy them. The problem so far is that they haven't.

              1. fiatlux

                Re: MS Band

                I totally agree. Applying the article logic to phones would mean that smartphones would never have been successful. It took a long while (I had an early Windows Mobile phone which was terrible), but it eventually became commodity. I would not burry smart watches yet.

        4. energystar
          Headmaster

          Re: MS Band

          " digital watches with a 10 *YEAR* battery life?"

          well those things where -actually- WATCHES.

          1. 68K

            Re: MS Band

            Exactly. Silicon to provide digital watch functionality and powering an LCD don't take that much power. You're never(*) going to get a smartwatch that consumes comparable amounts of power. They do a lot more, and so require more juice: especially so if you have a nice AMOLED screen like my Gear S2 has.

            * For appropriately small values of never.

        5. ATeal

          Re: MS Band

          This guy gets it.

          I can't think what it was but a few years ago I was so used to shitty specs of something and comparing them that I forgot things existed with decent specs.... I really can't think what it was.

          But a whole day! Amazing if one does what I did and forget about the "never having to change battery before it dies" thing of actual watches.

    3. N13L5

      Only zombies need electronics to 'track', body functions, fitness

      If you are alive, and your nerves and brain are still fully integrated in your body, your direct information about how your body is doing is perfect and complete.

      A fitness wristband seems like a weird and crude joke.

      On the other hand, if you are a self described zombie, who believes the body is just a jar holding your brains, with little added function other than arms and legs for transportation and to stuff your face with fast food and fondle the TV remote, fitness trackers must look like a miracle...

  2. ratfox Silver badge

    I agree with the current assessment, but it's a much bolder statement to say it will always remain so. There was 14 years between the Apple Newton and the iPhone. The former was a dud, and the latter started the biggest IT revolution since the 80s.

    So all in all, I understand that these companies are still working very hard on it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      > I understand that these companies are still working very hard on it.

      Try desperately trying to find a direction after the smartphone bubble came to an end, and keeping the over-all tech bubble inflated, by wildly flinging shit at a Teflon wall, hoping anything will sick, just as capitalism itself begins to falter.

      If I were apple, I'd go for a stylish line of riot protection gear. Imagine how sleek the Apple iGasmask is going to be.

    2. TeeCee Gold badge

      Well that'll be 'cos the former was a PDA while the latter is a phone.

      Oddly enough nobody ever managed to make PDAs sell as they only appealed to seriously anal business types (i.e. the ones who think having an MBA is actually cool) and geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever.

      Mobile phones are a mass market thing and mobile phones that do other things as well are a logical extension.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        PDAs used to sell rather well in the days of the Palmpilot and Psion. Windows CE devices, a bit less so.

        Of course what we were all using them for were functions supplied by any half decent smart phone these days. Basic calendaring functions, note taking, documents, e-mail, games, and the ability to create vertical applications. The alternative was a bulky filofax or a huge laptop.

        Once phones functionality started increasing, it was obvious the days of PDAs were numbered.

        Another ten years and you'll probably be laughed at for having a desktop. You'll either slot your 'phone' into a dock, or more likely it'll all be wireless. All that will be on a desk will be a monitor, keyboard, and mouse because a decent form factor does matter. Everything will travel with you, in addition to being stored online.

      2. Daggerchild Silver badge

        Yeah, I was one of those geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever. I installed servers via serial with my PDA, simply changed its AA batteries, and easily used dense spreadsheets on it.

        Now I can't, *and* I get derided for wanting to.

        1. Steve 114
          Happy

          Sunshine

          I had an APL printer/keyboard portable in the garden, with an acoustic coupler link to a mainframe somewhere quite else. Could juggle millions, between weeding in the sun. And... you could read the printout in daylight, no silly screens. Still got it, but nothing to connect to.

      3. SImon Hobson Silver badge

        > Oddly enough nobody ever managed to make PDAs sell as they only appealed to seriously anal business types (i.e. the ones who think having an MBA is actually cool) and geeks with absolutely no life whatsoever.

        Actually Psion and Palm did a half decent stab at them. But you missed out a third category - those who need something to help with their crap memory (one of the common features that go with my condition). I had a Palm 3 which worked very well, lasted aaaaaaaaages on a charge (or was it set of batteries), was small and light, and was really easy to use. It took a lot of abuse before I broke it's digitiser ! Then I had a Treo650 (about the time they were being discounted to shift the stock to make room for a newer model) which had the advantage of not having to carry around two devices (phone and organiser). I used that for (I think) over a decade before I finally switched to a basic Android device.

        OK - a phone will store phone numbers, but prior to the "smartphone" the functions were fiddly to use. A paper diary will keep track of what I;ve got on, but it's something else to carry - and big deal this, what's in there stays there unless I copy it by hand.

        What's great about my current (Android) phone and the Treo and III is that I can keep my address book and diary synced between my phone, laptop, and tablet. It's one of those "so what" things that until you realise how useful it is, you don't realise how useful it is (I hope that comes across as it's meant).

        There's also the issue that this allows me to backup the information - so I have no worries like those for whom losing the phone means "losing their life". I struggle to comprehend the mentality of those who keep their contacts, diary, photos, pretty well all their "life" on this small device - with no thought as to what happens when it gets lost or stolen, or simply breaks. I was at the photo counter in Asda a while back, and there was someone in there asking about bluetoothing their photos (hundreds of them) off the phone because the USB port was faulty and it was going back for "repair" (which usually means replacement with a blank device).

    3. LDS Silver badge

      Actually, smartphones were propelled among the non-business crowd by the social network (and cat photos) frenzy - while speed increased and costs for mobile Internet access were being reduced. Before, there were almost no use case for average Joe and Jane to own a PDA before, and a smartphone later. Blackberry was propelled by push email (when polling was still expensive), but that was again a business use case, not a generic one.

      What change in society could propel the smartwatch?

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        One of my first gigs was designing and coding a bardcode scanning system using SQL 6.0 on an NT backend (good old 7 of 9 font). windows CE appeared on little barcode PDA scanning machines and the rest was history for us - VB6 could be used to code on them, good old zebra printers made the barcodes and the warehouse tracking system was born. Windows 98 desktops using a VBA front end, PDAs on windows CE, SQL on NT4, 7 of 9 fonts, zebra printers, intel dos boot disks, GHOST server and it wouldn't have been possible without the PDAs on offer at the time. I bet there are still windows CE barcode scanners about today.

        The PDAs were used by all sorts of staff to check stocks, check PC builds (each component was barcoded so we knew what bit was in each PC), each HDD scanned (each scanner logged onto the system so you knew what its "job" was) loaded the correct GHOST image (dos Intel network boot too!). All this was in 1998 so a long time before ipads etc came about.

    4. werdsmith Silver badge

      Who says they need to be block-buster billion selling products to be successful?

      Do people really expect smartwatches to be as ubiquitous as smartphones? No, why would they? They are not a failure if they don't match smartphone sales. They are just a watch that are selling enough to outsell conventional watches. Pebble have just gone to Kickstarter again and been 978% funded in 3 days. That's almost $10million.

      Orlowski is looking at this completely the wrong way.

      1. AdamWill

        "Do people really expect smartwatches to be as ubiquitous as smartphones? No, why would they?"

        Well, you rather get the feeling Apple would like them to be, since the Apple Watch seems to have been their big bet to move on from the rapidly-maturing and margin-thinning smartphone market...

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          >Well, you rather get the feeling Apple would like them to be, since the Apple Watch seems to have been their big bet to move on from the rapidly-maturing and margin-thinning smartphone market...

          The only way to make PROFDIY IN PURE CAPITLAISM IS to have a have a (temporay or permenant ) monopoly. This is because the system resuilts on lowers marg9ns for every vendoe cos uil;wtesckl;j zxjk, b45guiown8ilwg789;re jkl;5bbm,.;/ beer.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Pint

            Yes Beer

          2. energystar
            Windows

            Cheers! You drunken Coward!

  3. JimmyPage Silver badge

    There is *something* somewhere ...

    not quite sure what, but having to take a smartphone out of a pocket to check the time is the gap we're looking at.

    1. 7-zark-7

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      So some sort of clock is in order. A clock that doesn't have to be kept in a pocket.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        I wonder if it would work best on a chain attached to the waist. Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Happy

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          "Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it..."

          Nice idea. Let's take the timekeeping device on a wrist band idea a bit further: unlike a smartphone, this surely won't be a device that people look at all the time, so it certainly won't be something they watch, so what to call it? I suggest we name the device the 'Wrist Occasional Glance'.

          You know, this could work.

          1. Tom 7 Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            Unfortunately there is a patent on round things so you would have to get your wrists squared off.

          2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
            Stop

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            > I suggest we name the device the 'Wrist Occasional Glance'.

            Dunno, I think the acronym might need some work...

        2. kmac499

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          I just discovered the other day that the "change pocket" in your average pair of denim jeans was originally designed to hold and protect a pocket watch.. Presumably cowboys and prospectors didn't bother with waistcoats gold chains and fobs..

        3. Wensleydale Cheese Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          "Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it."

          When I enquired of a young lady why she used her phone for the time rather than a wristwatch, her answer was "A wristwatch ruins the suntan".

          Sometimes you just can't win.

        4. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          wonder if it would work best on a chain attached to the waist. Or perhaps on a person's wrist with a band to anchor it.

          The Germans have something like that, they call it an "armbanduhr".

          Not sure if it'll catch on in the Anglosphere though.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            Wrist-attached Automatic Time CHecker might be a a bit of a mouthful, in full, but as acronym it may work. Might be taken though, should check

      2. BarryUK

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        So, a wearable clock which can give you the time without needing to take the phone out of your pocket... Hmm, what would be really great is if it was still able to work when you didn't have your smartphone on you.

        1. Dan 55 Silver badge
          Trollface

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          I like where this is going, I think you're onto something. Could we make it talk to the fridge too?

        2. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

          Even better if you didn't need to touch the display and swipe or whatever, for it to display the time in way that can be read by just glancing at the display. Additionally, wouldn't it be good if it glowed in the dark...

          1. Pedigree-Pete Bronze badge
            Alert

            Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

            Holy Cow! That HYT H3 is, according to Google.

            The new HYT H3 is limited to 25 pieces. Sticker Price $290,000 USD. For more info on HYT click here. Posted on March 21, 2015 by Editor & Publisher and filed under Baselworld, HYT, News and tagged HYT H3 Baselworld 2015 Top Baselworld.21 Mar 2015

            I'll have 2 please. PP

    2. King Jack Silver badge

      Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

      If this device powered itself forever from light and adjusted itself to an atomic time signal, so it really was just wear it and forget it. If only some company made such a device... (looks at own wrist).

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Mushroom

        Re: There is *something* somewhere ...

        Or you could ditch the daft, geeky feature list and go with something sort of retro / steampunk. Maybe purely mechanical, with little gears and a way you could see them?......(looks at own wrist).

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