back to article Wearables are now a two-horse race and Google lost very badly

Did you notice anything else missing from Mobile World Congress this year? Apart from any interesting phones? Previous MWCs have been flooded by hopeful tech companies touting new wearables. The flood became a trickle, and last year Huawei and LG were the only two tech vendors left flying the flag for Android Wear smartwatches …

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  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Men Vs Women

    Perhaps noticing that only men ever seem to wear an Apple Watch

    In my immediate family, I see a 50/50 split between men & women wearing Apple watches. And I've tended to see more women down the gym wearing them than men.

    1. arthoss

      Re: Men Vs Women

      yeah, in my section of the world it's also 50/50 (IT consulting, sports, photography).

    2. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

      Re: Men Vs Women

      I think I've seen a bias towards women wearing them, but then, I've not seen many people wearing them, so small samples sizes don't make for good stats, and all that.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Steve the Cynic Silver badge

        Re: Men Vs Women

        Are you sure they're women?

        Tsk. That said, round where I live (in the north of France), I see both men and women wearing them, although I wouldn't want to speculate about how close to 50/50 the split is(1). And yes, I can tell men and women apart. It isn't hard.

        (1) I can, however, confirm that one of the men posts here as Steve The Cynic.

      2. NinjasFTW
        WTF?

        Re: Men Vs Women

        isn't that the sort of comment that would have your San Francisco based reporters screaming over as sexist/derogatory?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men Vs Women

      I'd agree, I've seen as many women as men wearing them.

      However, anyone who does a lot of outdoor hill walking/mountain biking etc try out an Android Wear watch with View Ranger and the relevant OS map tiles. It's pretty amazing and when the conditions get tough can be a life saver (make sure you have a map and compass as a backup though!).

      I've used it in very tricky situations and for casual walking - works great. It's the main reason why I really hope that I can buy another one when mine finally kicks the bucket.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Men Vs Women

        I know/see far more women wearing an Apple Watch outside the gym than men, and those wearing a Fitbit outside of the gym/exercising it is almost 100% women. Men who wear watches out and about tend to wear an expensive (or at least expensive looking) fashion watch, women are more likely to wear something cheap or functional. I see plenty of Apple Watches and Fitbits in the predominantly college crowd gym I go to, but again a lot more women than men.

        A couple years ago I knew a few people wearing Android / Samsung watches but I don't recall seeing one for a long time now.

    5. This post has been deleted by its author

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men Vs Women

      "Perhaps noticing that only men ever seem to wear an Apple Watch"

      I've only seen wankers wearing them. Actually just the one wanker (although with ego enough for several) and he was male, so I suppose my experience matches that statement.

    7. Blank Reg Silver badge

      Re: Men Vs Women

      For me it's a 0/0 split, I don't know anyone that owns a smartwatch, or at least not anyone willing to wear one in public. Though I know plenty of people with fitbits.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: Men Vs Women

        "For me it's a 0/0 split, I don't know anyone that owns a smartwatch, or at least not anyone willing to wear one in public. Though I know plenty of people with fitbits."

        This. I have a cheapo £25 Xiaomi band, it does what I need, I can use it to tell the time if necessary, and nobody notices it. And I recharge it every 2 weeks. I have a slab with a touchscreen, thanks. (Actually I have three, let's not go there), I don't need any more.

      2. JSIM

        Re: Men Vs Women

        Yup. 0/0 for me too here in The Great White North. Don't see them, don't hear about them. Noone I know or have met wears them or talks about them. I don't even see any advertising. I don't need gyms to stay fit, so I don't know what goes on there. The wearables are yet another fad that I have no interest in, and it seems that I am not alone.

        Maybe most people are still too busy getting over the novelty and thrill of playing children's video games and texting drivel back and forth with their smartphones in the subway (underground for you chaps) to pay any attention.

        PS. Fitbit? Is that the part of me that never gets tired?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Men Vs Women

          Rural Britain: I've seen more men than women wearing Apple Watch, and more women than men wearing fitness bands. Pure anecdotally, of course.

          My sample group is mostly composed of pub users and supermarket checkout assistants.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men Vs Women

      Totally. Me too, a perfect 50/50: 0 men, 0 women.

      I fortunately don't have idiots in my entourage.

    9. JohnFen Silver badge

      Re: Men Vs Women

      I've only personally seen two Apple watches in the wild, both worn by men. But I haven't seen any Android watches in the wild at all.

  2. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

    is it worth paying £250 for?

    No.

  3. Colin Bull 1
    Unhappy

    Fitbit - lost the plot

    My view of Fitbit is that it has quality and support issues. The Blaze has not been supported for over a year. Users are crying out for new watch faces - even just tweaks to the colours. Fitbit has not found it worth 10 minutes of developers time to put out minor mods.

    My Charge 2 developed a screen fault and I upgrade to a Blaze. The battery level indicator is a joke. It is just possible to see it when fully charged, after a day you need a magnifying glass. Pebble had a thousand and one screens to highlight what you wanted to see. Pebble was light years ahead.

    Fitbit are pissing off their user base to concentrate on the latest model.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

      Agreed, when I bought my fitbit alta hr it was touted as Android compatible. Now it seems they have a "compatible devices" list. I was not impressed because I had problems syncing with my new phone and the only support option was the forums. It almost got sent back till I realised it was the phone pairing with the device, unpaired it and it now works without problem. When I eventually get a new one it probably won't be fitbit.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

        Fitbit is great if you want to be told you're burning 5000 calories a day while sat at your desk.

        I tried Android wear - mess of Google and manufacturer's conflicting apps.

        Settled on a Samsung something or other.

        Still miss my MS Band 2 though.

    2. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

      I was very peeved when Pebble was swallowed up and effectively eliminated.

      I'm currently trying a stupidly named ZeTime from the even more stupidly named MyKronoz and I have to say it has the balance about right - long battery life, waterproof, useful as a watch, with some notifications / fitness features.

      Apple / Google seem to be treating smart watches like smart phones where the 'smart' part completely overwhelmed the phone (I don't know about anyone else but I make very few phone calls). I don't need my watch to be particularly smart - it's just for quick checks on the most relevant info, not for doing stuff.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

      The wifes shop, they refer to ten as shitbit, the failure rate is REALLY high %

      Behind the Xbox360 and its 60+% failure rate, Its literally the 2nd most unreliable product ever made.

      Font know why the press give them a free pass and pretend its not happening.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

        Xbox eventually replaced all affected models even outside of the warranty period and without proof of purchase. I believe some Macbooks manufactured around the same time also suffered from issues related to the same root cause - mandatory use of lead-free solder.

        A high tech manufacturer near me still uses leaded solder for its military and aerospace applications.

  4. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    I must admit I have a Chinese fitness band (I actually paid £20 for it rather than £30).

    Not only does it do everything I need it to do, well enough that I'm happy with it, it doesn't look like some horrible great 1970s retro digital nonsense.

    So I have no wish to upgrade it for an Apple one or a fitbit or whatever. Especially as my record of watches over the years is such that I forcibly stopped myself buying any watch over £30 on the grounds that I'll either break it, lose it or - in one case - take it off, leave it on the edge of my desk, accidentally knock it into the bin and have it found by the cleaner at the end of the day. (And yes, fortunately, I did get it back in that last case...)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wearables are just

    penal tracking bracelets disguised as fashion accessories for Fascist Victims.

    1. Dave 137

      Re: Wearables are just

      Suppose you’re right about the tracking thing, but I tend to wear mine on my wrist.

      1. kyndair
        Big Brother

        Re: Wearables are just

        but it does raise the important question of steps/wanks equivalency, enquiring minds etc.

    2. Mage Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: tracking bracelets

      I only know one person with an Apple Watch. A serious Apple fan and he wants to sell it.

      The idea of wearables is not compelling apart from fitness/health devices. The privacy and security issues need to be solved / addressed.

      Monitoring / logging (NO Internet!) of walking, heart rate/irregularities/ECG, blood pressure, sugar levels, temperature, breathing, EEG, fetus etc outside a hospital in normal life is a great idea, but useless without accuracy, reliability, privacy & security. No wireless, except optional SMS/999 module for high risk patients. Micro USB to charge and download log. Battery life needs to be several days to a week. Logging needs to be up to a month, or maybe a year, not relying on frequent downloads.

      Any display might be useful if eInk and giving text for beep alerts about need to take insulin, glucose, tablet etc in a clear fashion not needing reading glasses.

      1. Joe Werner

        Re: tracking bracelets

        I know one person with an Apple watch. It was a present (recently) and she seems to like using it for now. At least she now sees notifications when one tries to contact her ;) and apparently it can interface with her blood sugar thingy which is really useful for her.

        She used to be very reserved towards the fruity stuff until a few months ago. And she is not impulsive, fashion driven, easily influenced etc. Bright gal, on the way to her PhD as well.

  6. Oflife

    Pebble

    Had it all right. Should never have sold out to FitBit.

    1. Martin 47

      Re: Pebble

      Is the right answer, if Fitbit had spent time and effort developing that further in sensible (I.e. not flashy) ways things might have looked very different today.

  7. K Silver badge
    Pint

    Why is Garmin

    Always overlooked in these comparisons?

    They seem to fly under the radar, but the products are solid and any serious sports person I know uses them. Admittedly for me, it gets used 3 weeks a year as a glorious GPS tracker whilst I Ski..

    1. Adrian 4 Silver badge

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Because the media and volume industries aren't interested in specialist products that consider function before appearance, They're only interested in bling that can be pushed through celebrity marketing to sell to a far bigger sector than actually wants them.

      This isn't surprising : they couldn't really operate only on specialist sectors, even ones as big as skiiing. But it means you can't look to them for innovation, only for acknowledgement that they see a large, uncritical market to exploit.

      When a product is differentiated by its colour, price, celebrity endorsement rather than its features, it's mainstream. Until that point, it's geek (for tech - other designations are available). I'm far more interested in the early stages but that's not for everyone.

      1. Brangdon

        Re: function before appearance

        My VivoActive 3 looks pretty enough to me. It has a round dial as god intended, you can pick which watch face you please, and the screen is always on.

        It seems wrong to praise FitBit for a 4-day battery life when my Garmin lasts 9+ days. Currently mobile payments don't work in the UK, but I'm still hopeful that will change. Many other features, including replying to text notifications.

    2. Trumpet Winsock
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why is Garmin

      I've been using Garmin watches for many years. I'm a runner and as you say they are great bits of kit for sports people.

      My current model is the 235, battery life of well over a week with constant heart rate, sleep and step monitoring, 10 hours -ish in GPS Mode. Text messages appear on my wrist and any app notification that I give permission for plus Bluetooth music control for my phone.

      Downloadable apps and customisable watch faces, plus if you are in a strange town just start a background activity when you leave your car / hotel and if you get disorientated / inebriated then the watch displays a big arrow with the distance and direction back to where you started.

      I think they are underestimated by people who just see them as Sports watches and aren't aware of their other varied functions.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is Garmin

      It's not just serious sport people who use them (although I am one of those bores).

      At work, & about, I see more Garmins with smart functionality than any other recognisable brand of watch.

      The only time this wasn't true was at VMworld where iWatches ruled.

    4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Yes, they're sports focused but they focus on so many sports that it shouldn't be a problem. Mine (an old one) has modes for everything from swimming to sky diving alongside all the smart functionality which people think is new.

    5. Ryan Clark

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Two new wearables in our family this year. Both Garmin.We have had 4 Fitbits over time, my daughter has lost the two expensive ones and the one I had lasted OK for a year and the battery gave out and Fitbit replaced it with another one which lasted another year before getting the same problem. I wouldn't have paid for it, came free with my last phone.

      Daughter also got a cheap Chinese tracker last year, but that didn't last a month.

      1. MrT

        Re: Why is Garmin

        Yeah, I did a trawl for a smartwatch-type device, having had one of the generic Chinese fitness band devices fail on sync after about 2 years use, and came away thinking that Garmin was a decent option. I was umming and ahhing about Forerunner735XT or Fenix 3, which are about the same price, (choice basically metal or plastic case) or VivoActive, which looks neat, costs less even if it seems to have jumped up about £50 since Christmas, but has touch screen niggles if used in the wet that don't affect the other two with their physical buttons. Garmin might have iffy customer service according to some reviewers, but their watches work for sports/fitness uses, plus don't have the sync issues with Android 6 that seem to plague some FitBit and TomTom users.

        I had considered the TomTom Runner 3 (it has multi-sports modes despite its name), which is good on the GPS/breadcrumb trail side of things, although IIRC didn't do so well on gym-based cycling/running, but it seems they've just bailed from the wearables market. Another brand a triathlete friend of mine uses and has gone back to after trying the TomTom Runner range is Suunto - seems to be a split between them and Garmin for the folk who do du-/tri-athlons, Iron Man, etc., but don't do Apple. HR on the wrist is useful, though most of the 'serious' folk would need the ability to link in HR chest bands, plus bike metrics sensors for speed/cadence.

        1. ThomH Silver badge

          Re: Why is Garmin

          I'm also wearing a Garmin: I bought refurbished so for $150 that got me 8-day battery life, sports tracking with GPS and heart rate, and notifications from a paired phone. Plug it in via USB and all my data is accessible as XML (though in practice I just sync it with the Garmin app via Bluetooth). I didn't really want the notifications, but there they are.

          That said, the first one failed after about ten months — the front screen came slightly loose without my noticing, water got in and that was that. Customer service replaced it for free though, with a brand new one so the net effect was: a free spare charging cable.

        2. Edwin

          Re: Why is Garmin

          Had a fitbit, which was nice to count steps, but it's Suunto now. Very sports-centric, but all around useful enough for daily use also.

          1. Mark 110 Silver badge

            Re: Why is Garmin

            Thanks for the tip on the Garmins all - I have been using a Garmin Swim for years (Garmin smart watches didn't exist back then and the GPS ones didn't have pool functfions).

            Very tempted by the 735XT or 935 - both like a very nice upgrade. Time to get a new toy and hopefully get a bit of cash back on the Swim and the Cycle computer (probably give that to the nephew - he wants one) as it would replace both.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why is Garmin

              Don't buy the 735XT. The 935 is supported for another few years and is not end of life, unlike the 735XT.

              The 935 shares a common architecture with the Fenix range, finally!

              I've had both and the 935 is light years ahead in terms of functionality. It's also less than half the weight of a Fenix but provides the same functionality.

              Purchased them all online at discounted prices and it was clear that at £399 the 935 was the best. Don't pay RRP for these things! There are indeed problems but constant software updates - which I've not used as I'm happy with an old version - are available to those who experience issues with specific activities.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why is Garmin

              The 935 has better GPS capability than the Fenix range, as its plastic. The metal bezel on the Fenix range causes major issues which include loss of GPS signal, high battery usage, multipath distortion, among other issues.

              Honestly, don't buy a fenix or 735XT!

              1. NorthernSands

                Re: Why is Garmin

                A little bit of FUD going on here. Yes, there are some people who are reporting ANT+ drop outs and some other problems, but not enough to warrant your comments. I have an F5, which I use for running (HRM and footpod) and cycling (cadence, speed, HRM and power when on the turbo) and I've not had any dropouts nor dodgy GPS. The wife's F5S also does not suffer.

                Having said that, anecdotal evidence suggests there are more problems with the Saphire versions than normal (and Garmin appear to be updating the chip / antennae for WiFi and ANT+).

                1. Candy

                  [They want] to get its first models into the hands of as many consumers as possible...

                  My anecdotal evidence with the Fenix 5X Sapphire is that it works fine whatever I need it to do. The downsides have been weight (which you get used to) and the cost. That said, this thing is enormously robust and has been bashed and scraped all over the place and still looks as good as new. Sapphire and Steel (the materials, no the show) really do make it all but indestructible.

    6. Daniel Bower

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Agree - I owned a Pebble Steel and the Fenix 5 is as close to that as I can get. The one thing it is missing is reply to text message (although the Vivoactive 3 and 645 have this to a limited extent). Other than that it does everything I used my Gear S3 for.

      Bloody love it too. In to my third week off a single battery charge and am showing 25%. No GPS use in that time but some indoor exercising. Supremely well built also and is smart enough (looks-wise, not features) to where in the office.

    7. Franco Silver badge

      Re: Why is Garmin

      As others have said, TomTom is also well overlooked in this segment as it's purely a fitness tracker rather than a smart watch (or at least, I assume that's the reason)

      I never had any intention of buying one, I took up running a few years ago when I started contracting as I was rarely in one place long enough to be invited to join the 5 aside teams and often IT bods don't like such things anyway. I was using my Lumia 925 with Runtastic on it for outdoor tracking of runs, and not bothering in the gym. Was happy enough with the phone as I also used it for music (and some trail runs make carrying a phone mandatory for obvious reasons) although it required buying expensive shorts with a pocket at the rear waistband.

      I was given the TomTom Runner+Music 2 for my birthday and I have to say I really like it. Lighter than the phone, and can be used in the gym or outdoors, I already had bluetooth headphones. First thing I did was turn off the trackers though, I don't really want to know how many steps I did or how badly my watch thinks I slept and I DEFINITELY don't want to turn in to one of those twats who tells everybody else how many steps they've done constantly.

      It's also not too large or offensively ugly or anything like that so I tend to wear it as my everyday watch now, especially as I usually go to the gym after work.

      1. Dominion

        Re: Why is Garmin

        Tom Tom are / have bailed out of the wearables market.

    8. BigAndos

      Re: Why is Garmin

      I have a Garmin Vivosport which is pretty good. It does the bare minimum of things I want from a smart watch (relay notifications, let me pause/skip music) and is waterproof so I can track my swimming. It was also a pretty decent price and the battery lasts 7 days. I really don't want anything more complex than that and it is a good all rounder for the price.

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