back to article Finally, that tech fad's over: Smartwatch sales tank more than 50%

The latest figures on smartwatch shipments have shown a dramatic decline in interest among consumers. Analyst house IDC reported a 51.6 per cent drop in smartwatch sales, with just 2.7 million wrist-mounted computers shipped in the third quarter of the year, compared to 5.6 million over the same period last year. Apple and …

  1. J. R. Hartley Silver badge
    1. werdsmith Silver badge

      "It has also become evident that at present smartwatches are not for everyone," said Jitesh Ubrani, senior research analyst for IDC Mobile Device Trackers.

      Well I can see why Jitesh is a senior research analyst, with such incredible insight. None of us ordinary folk could have worked that out on our own.

  2. BillG Silver badge
    Happy

    Garmin

    Fitness is still king, and the only vendor to show serious growth was Garmin, which saw sales of its sporty smartwatches rise 324 per cent over the year

    I never thought much of smart watches until I got one, a Garmin Forerunner. They definitely do smart watches right.

    Garmin watch faces are programmable and very customizable so you can have almost any watch face you want, even a Breitling or a Rolex. But the main advantage is that I can see who is calling or texting me with the flick of a wrist. Makes in invaluable when driving as I do not need to take my hands from the wheel, and it is also a very "rudeless" way of checking and reading your text messages while talking to someone.

    1. goldcd

      I can do the wrist flick in my 1st gen Moto 360

      The issue as I see it is "I'm a person who will buy a smartwatch and did" and "my current smartwatch is absolutely fine for what I want" - going to take something really special (or catastrophic death) to make me upgrade.

      Garmin is interesting though - my newly running addicted colleague spent some horrific amount on a Garmin Fenix something - which is light-years ahead of my watch (if you like running).

      My take is Apple went in way too fast and high-end on their watch, and now can't do anything too different without alienating their 1st gen buyers. Google is just sitting back and seeing how it all pans out and whether there really is a mass-market out there.

      Garmin just went hell-for-leather in making the best fitness watch - and frankly can't see anybody touching them and their ecosystem they've built around it (and maybe more importantly Apple or Google taking that market ever as they both pissed around in the non-existent middle-ground).

      1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
        Coat

        Flash Gordon

        The only reason i would want one is to do the Flash Gordon video call thing on it.

        and after a few quotes and some queen songs the novelty would wear off.....

      2. Mark Cathcart

        Re: I can do the wrist flick in my 1st gen Moto 360

        I had both Pebbles(Kickstarter), the Pebble 2 disappointed, and my Garmin 310XT that I use for triathlon and training failed after 6-years, and I went with the Garmin Fenix 3. On average, using the GPS for 2-3 activities per week, two swim training sessions and an indoor bike session, the battery still lasts 6-days.

        It turns out its a great smart watch. There are great apps, I get all my alerts, I can control music via BT MP3 player or phone etc. I've worn it 24/7 for a year now.

    2. Sandtitz Silver badge

      Re: Garmin

      "But the main advantage is that I can see who is calling or texting me with the flick of a wrist. Makes in invaluable when driving as I do not need to take my hands from the wheel, "

      Any sufficiently recent car fitted with a hands-free system will show at least the caller and some can also show the text messages as well. But you still can't make or answer calls with that Garmin... :-)

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

        Re: Garmin

        So you're saying I should buy a new car with all the bells and whistles instead of a smart watch?

        Fair enough

        1. Pseudonymous Clown Art

          Re: Garmin

          "So you're saying I should buy a new car with all the bells and whistles instead of a smart watch?"

          Sshh!

          Smartwatches are already chunky and naff. I dont want Apple to start grafting cars to them.

          1. TheVogon Silver badge

            Re: Garmin

            "Smartwatches are already chunky and naff"

            +1 - everyone ends up looking at their phone anyway. Plus you can buy a half decent real Swiss watch for the cost of one....

            Until they can "beam me up" - i'm not interested...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Garmin

        Any sufficiently recent car fitted with a hands-free system will show at least the caller and some can also show the text messages as well. But you still can't make or answer calls with that Garmin... :-)

        If you're replacing the Garmin watch with stuff fitted in a car I'm afraid you have mildly missed the point of that watch. People with that watch walk, jog or cycle between two points, using a car for that would rather defeat the purpose :).

      3. Phil W

        Re: Garmin

        "But the main advantage is that I can see who is calling or texting me with the flick of a wrist. Makes in invaluable when driving as I do not need to take my hands from the wheel"

        Yeah because turning your head to look at your wrist instead of the road while you read a message on a tiny screen on your wrist isn't dangerous at all!

        I would strongly advise against trying to read messages while driving at all, but at least with your phone in a cradle on the dash you can glance at it without turning your head away from the road.

    3. Wade Burchette

      Re: Garmin

      "But the main advantage is that I can see who is calling or texting me with the flick of a wrist. Makes in invaluable when driving as I do not need to take my hands from the wheel"

      I can do that too without a watch. It is called a car cradle. I can buy 4 of them for the cost of 1 Garmin smartwatch.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Garmin

      But the main advantage is that I can see who is calling or texting me with the flick of a wrist.

      I would have thought that doing anything based on wrist flicking may be prone to error, as in introducing a very badly timed variant of butt dialling :).

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Garmin

        >I would have thought that doing anything based on wrist flicking may be prone to error, as in introducing a very badly timed variant of butt dialling :).

        It's only to turn on the display :)

        Even some conventional LCD watches have used a similar mechanism to temporarily turn on the back light (thinking of a late-nineties Casio G-Shock).

    5. TheProf

      Re: Garmin

      " it is also a very "rudeless" way of checking and reading your text messages while talking to someone."

      You don't think staring at your watch while someone is talking with you won't be construed as rude?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Garmin

        You don't think staring at your watch while someone is talking with you won't be construed as rude?

        Better than staring at their happy bits which is what I normally do. And snigger.

        AC aged 7 1/2.

    6. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Garmin

      You know hands-free devices are just as distracting to use whilst driving, right? And that it's potentially "driving without due care an attention" if the cops notice and are coming up to penalty-notice-quota day, or you have an accident whilst using it?

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-36475180

      #justsaying

      1. Phil W

        Re: Garmin

        "You know hands-free devices are just as distracting to use whilst driving, right?"

        This is true, the only way I tend to use my phone while driving is by voice command, with Google Now set up and the phone unlocked and charging in it's cradle before I set off I can make phone calls or send text messages by voice command (usually just "I'm going to be late" or "I'm stuck in traffic", things I don't need to read a reply for) without looking at the phone at all.

        Is it still dangerous to make hands free phone calls while driving, even when not looking at or touching the device? Possibly, but I would argue no more so than it is to hold a conversation with a passenger and how many of us sit in absolute silence ignoring our passengers while driving?

        I've also always been annoyed by the specific addition of use of mobile phones while driving to UK law. Not because I have anything against the law as such, but firstly because it was pretty much covered by "due care and attention" and secondly because it doesn't take any account of CB radios that farmers/HGV drivers use all the time while driving, arguable with far greater risk because of the size of vehicles they're operating.

      2. Colin Critch

        Re: Garmin

        About as distracting as passengers or a speedo which obliviously need to be banned too.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Garmin

          Re: Colin / Re: Garmin

          About as distracting as passengers or a speedo which obliviously need to be banned too

          actually No, the car passengers - because they are in the same reference frame as the driver - do not have a deleteriously measurable effect similar to 'killer' sending text, 'killer' reading text, 'killer' holding a phone whilst making a call or 'killer' making a 'hands-free' call to someone who is *not* in your frame of reference.

          This was a surprising result from some real science. . .

          I think the write-up concluded that a local passenger might/did spot the oncoming cement truck and their change in body language was sufficient to cause enough driver caution upgrades

          as for the speedo, dunno, but two recent cars - a Yaris and a sci-fi Civic both had a virtual digital speedo set at 'infinity' so there was little focus shift required for road/instrument reading. . .

          the 'shock' fact was that hands-free is very dangerous in cars. That why robot AI driving, with pollution compensating micro-payments & online pay-to-drive, is on its way, inexorably*, leaving the person in charge of the car to surf to his desired content. (*except for 1970's diesel Landy's)

          1. Colin Critch

            Re: Garmin

            Dear Anon,

            I am far from advocating use of mobile phones for such things like texting, browsing or even sometimes talking hands free. I do use my phone as a satnav that sits in my line of sight in a holder. I set it up before I set off. I refrain from touching it while driving ( the phone that is). Is this more distracting than the mirror, oil light or the Speedo?

            I sometimes see two people sat in car in front of me with the driver turning their head to talk to their passenger often completely oblivious to the speed limit they just broke. I don’t do this with my passengers because it seems safer not to. I also don’t have a problem with telling the passenger to shut-up either ( and it helps to reduce the number of future passenger requests).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Garmin

              Okay, I'd just read the research & sometimes the passengers can be helpful, but I agree with you that there are times when. . . . !

              in EU (where I live) the cops have started monetising the locals "need-to-chat", it's now €500 per offence - to hold the phone in the hand - the spot radar installations are being allowed to rust as now a single cop in a car, with a notepad, is earning the village enough to pay his wages, and some left over for the mayor.

              for some unknown reason everyone is still talking! muppets.

              I have had an Alfa written off, in 1996, when an idiot crashed into the two cars behind me at the roundabout, then they both rippled forward with enough energy to bork my car. His excuse in the nineties was that his Nokia brick had just rung - it was natural to answer - so he didn't notice the tailback!

              I still don't think the smartwatch will help road safety, but yes, the driver most certainly can.

    7. Sven Coenye
      Coat

      Re: Garmin

      "you can have almost any watch face you want, even a Breitling or a Rolex"

      Those are Swiss, aren't they? Didn't some other company once put a Swiss watch face on something and it turned out to be a rather sour apple?

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Batteries

    Terrible battery capacity is the main limiting factor of these devices, reducing their ability to even fulfill the main function of a watch, that of constantly displaying the time. Is it feasible to use the watch's wristband as extra battery space? Do any manufacturers do this? Just curious.

    1. Karl H

      Re: Batteries . yeah and small screens etc..

      Its not just naff battery life, bar a few niche things like a fitness tracker, I can't see how a smart watch improves on either a watch or a smart phone.

      I can remember being a school kid and salivating over a Casio calculator watch in the early 80s. Looked cool, however trying to use tiny buttons soon became tiresome.

      The main issue with trying to get a watch to do too much hasn't changed since then. The watch form factor is just too small to do anything much other than well be a watch. I guess a wrist smart phone might do it, but who wants a 5 inch smart phone strapped to their wrist ? Although I'd see a bigger market in smartphone wrist straps than smart watches.

      I need a watch to well tell the time, with a battery that will last for at least 1 year, more likely 5 years ( if its digital ) . A smart phone I need to be big enough to see without a microscope, with a battery that will last a day between charges.

      1. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Batteries . yeah and small screens etc..

        I have a pebble steel. It allows me to have my phone on silent but not miss a call and can read texts in meetings. Can even sent preset replies. It is a valuable addition to a smart phone.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Batteries . yeah and small screens etc..

          It is a valuable addition to a smart phone.

          To be honest, I prefer to have my phone in sight instead. I just wish it was easier to temporarily kill off vibrate - I don't want a phone on "silent", I want it on "do not disturb" and those are NOT the same.

      2. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: Batteries . yeah and small screens etc..

        Ahhhh yes.... Sxxxxxx Mxxxxxx arrived back at school after Christmas 1979 with a *gold-plated* Casio calculator watch, the bastard! I got an Airfix Spitifre, IIRC. And the lifelong chip on the shoulder I have to thank him for is what got me this glamorous, jet-set job in finance infosec, whilst he's now... *type type* a professor at Kings College London.

        * now if you'll excuse me, I'm just off to my safe cupboard for a little cry...

    2. James 51 Silver badge

      Re: Batteries

      Pebble 2 have connectors for smart wrist bands. It's suppose to be for stuff like extra sensors but you could probably put a small flexible battery (assuming anyone would be willing to risk it post note) into a wrist band. Of course my pebble steel lasts about five days between charges so it isn't that desperately needed.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Batteries

      If they had used kinetic charging I'm sure many early adopters would have no issues keeping them topped up.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Batteries

        >The watch form factor is just too small to do anything much other than well be a watch.

        A small display can communicate the time just fine - as traditional watches do by hands or segmented LCD display. However, there are other data or states that can also be communicated just fine on a small display, such as a message notification. Even if only using watch hands, lots of useful info can be read - speed, altitude, direction, time. Even a single RGB LED can communicate useful info (type of incoming message, battery level etc, as seen on Blackberry and some Android phones already).

        Casio and Citizen both makes watches with this sort of functionality, both with 1 year + battery life.

        Personally, I'll wait til SoC and battery tech allow a smartwatch to be smaller, and the cost of selective laser sintering of titanium becomes cheap enough to let me design (or rather, copy a 1969 Omega Chronostop) my own watch case. It will communicate to me by vibration and through its hands ( the hands will 'dance' at 6 o'clock for a text message, for example).

    4. mrdalliard

      Re: Batteries

      I have a Garmin VivoActive HR and the battery life is pretty awesome - I get over a week per charge (sometimes up to 10 days), and that's with a reasonable amount of GPS usage during running, which I do 3 times a week.

      Not all smartwatches have dismal battery life like Apple's offering. I don't need a battery-wristband...

      1. Sporkinum

        Re: Batteries

        I just got the non HR version of the VivoActive and I love it. 1 week or so of battery life, customizable, water proof to like 50 meters, and it cost me $85. Not fully smart as you can't reply to texts, but I can read them, see who's calling, see the weather etc. Replaced my beloved 26 year old G-Shock (at least for a while).

    5. Law

      Re: Batteries

      The pebble's display is always on, no bright screen, and no wrist flicking needed. It lasts all week too, and takes less than 30 minutes to charge.

      Suits my needs, but not for everybody.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: Batteries

        I use a first gen pebble time too. Very useful to me. Their new Time 2 or whatever just didn't do much extra that was useful for me to upgrade. Plus they seem to have gone down the already saturated fitness route with their Health thing.

        The other problem for Pebble is that they just don't have the mass to be able to afford the marketing required to really shift numbers. They depend on social media and word of mouth, so even though they are probably the most sorted smartwatch and one of the cheapest, nobody knows it.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Called it

    I called it all the way through the media hype cycle. And now I'm calling personal assistants, and VR.

    1. ecofeco Silver badge

      Re: Called it

      You and a small handful of us and man, did we take some heat for it.

      1. jaminbob

        Re: Called it

        It's a great example of when shiny corporate marketing world of 20 somethings in 'generic Western advert city' meets the real world of normal folk in rainy swindon or Sheffield.

        I mean I like the idea of having a 70s scifi film prop on my wrist but until it does something useful and has a battery that lasts at least as long as a kindle, I'm not taking the risk of getting robbed or breaking it.

        We tolerate smartphones batteries and risks because they are just So. Damn. Useful.

    2. Barry Rueger Silver badge

      Re: Called it

      BUT! What happens when merge a smart phone AND VR???

      Surely there's SOME problem for which this is a solution?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Called it

        BUT! What happens when merge a smart phone AND VR???

        Surely there's SOME problem for which this is a solution?

        There is: overpopulation. People wearing that will either get run over or won't mate, so that's both a tactical and a strategic solution in one.

        :)

      2. James 51 Silver badge

        Re: Called it

        It's called Gear VR. No solution, but did have a geeky moment when I was watching DS9 on it.

    3. twilkins

      Re: Called it

      Smartwatches sales are still growing dude.

      They just call them "fitness trackers" instead now.

      A more logical approach would be to look at how the sales of "wearables" are doing rather than fixating on the definitions/categorisation of a few fusty tech journos.

    4. 0laf Silver badge

      Re: Called it

      I dunno, generic smartwatches were always a toy looking for a market. I never saw them working, but fitness trackers seem to be doing quite well. But like tablets everyone that wants one has one so they will only be selling replacements now.

      I think VR will do ok, but for console gaming not much else. Sony has theirs and MS will be bringing one out with the new XBox. Occulus will probably stay for the high end PC gamers but not much else.

  5. Herby Silver badge

    How about a watch that...

    TELLS TIME Oh, wait, those can be had for about $50 (or less) at the corner drug store. Oh, and the batteries last years not days, so they can be simple (non explosive) ones. Anything else is just dumb "applications" that I really don't need on my wrist unless I'm Dick Tracy (which I'm not!).

    Me? I've got a Seiko, which has lasted around 20 years or so, and will likely last another 20.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about a watch that...

      To be honest, I do have a bit of a problem with the idea that people are to friggin' lazy to reach for their phone to read texts and pick up a call. The only functionality that a watch can add is indeed acting as a sports sensor, but for that you don't need to waste frankly stupid amounts of money.

      It stinks a bit too much of the 'look at me' culture. I buy devices because their functionality happens to be of use to me, not because I need to signal I belong to a specific club as marketeers would like me to think.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: How about a watch that...

        >To be honest, I do have a bit of a problem with the idea that people are to friggin' lazy to reach for their phone to read texts and pick up a call.

        I'm too lazy to reach into my pocket for my phone if all I want to do is read the time. That is why I wear a watch (currently a £5 Casio, though I have a windup for when I scrub up). It is simply quicker and more convenient.

        Every time I pull my phone out of my pocket there is a small (but real) chance I will drop it, and other the lifetime of a phone those chances add up. There is also a chance there will be water, mud, oil or some other grime on my hands, substances I would rather keep on the outside of my clothing and off my phone.

      2. IsJustabloke Silver badge
        Stop

        Re: How about a watch that...

        "To be honest, I do have a bit of a problem with the idea that people are to friggin' lazy to reach for their phone"

        I have a fitbit Blaze which is a fitness tracker with a bit of smartness.

        when I'm at home my phone usually sits on a side table in its cradle across the room from the sofa, so if it rings then a quick glance at my fitbit allows me to decide whether I need to get up and answer the 'phone, likewise if I get a text and can decide if I need to respond it or can simply ignore it.

        if I'm listening to music streamed from my phone, I can stop /start/ skip/rewind from the comfort of my sofa / armchair/kitchen etc etc. So in that respect they're useful functions but only if I'm at home, if I'm out and about my phone is always in reach so I use the phone.

        So really it's not really about being lazy friggin or otherwise.

        YMMV

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Re: How about a watch that...

        How about a smart meta-watch that pairs with your smart watch that pairs with your smart phone that takes the place of your brain, and saves all that wrist flicking that saves all that getting the phone out of your pocket, bag or case, that saves all that remembering things we used to do?

    2. werdsmith Silver badge

      Re: How about a watch that...

      Someone always pulls the "I've got a watch that actually tells the time" thing on every one of these discussions. It's not unlike the "I've got a phone that I use to actually make phone calls" things.

      I don't really need a watch (or a phone) to tell the time, the time is everywhere I need it.

      I do like the no ring tone silence, and the quick look to see if a notification is worth acting on or can be ignored.

      Really there are a billion things in this world that I don't find useful but others do. I'm not really all that inclined to try and deride people that do find them useful though. That would make me look far more like a tosser than having a smartwatch would.

  6. Martin Walker

    pebble steel

    days between charges, does useful stuff....

    1. D@v3

      Re: pebble round

      (slightly fewer) days between charges, looks like a normal watch, does useful stuff....

  7. bobajob12

    Things that a smart watch is good for

    Good for:

    - giving you GPS directions when you are in a car without in-car navigation. No need to look at the phone screen and if you drive with hands at 10-to-2 then you barely need to take your eyes off the road at all.

    - looking like a twonk. You may have changed the face to look like a Patek Philippe but that just makes you more of a twonk. You are up there with car salesmen who wear giant divers watches, because who knows, they might have to adjust the time wearing thick neoprene gloves in 80feet of icy North Sea water...while selling used Mondeos.

    That is all.

    Bad for:

    - Battery life. I get one full day out of mine. And it's a pain to have to drag the charger along for trips. When can we evolve to "self-winding" like normal watches?

    - Fitness tracking. Maybe I have weird wrists or something but I can take my pulse by hand and work out my heart rate faster than the sensor on my watch. My phone also does a much better job of tracking activities.

    - taking calls. Seriously there is no way to sneakily glance at your watch when a call comes in. If I find you sneaking a glance at your watch when I'm talking to you then I know that you are late, or bored. Let the damn call go to voicemail! If it's that important they'll call you again.

    - useful work. Forget it.

    1. cambsukguy

      Re: Things that a smart watch is good for

      Given the size of the screen and the location (not close enough to the line of sight while driving), that sounds dangerous and possibly illegal,

      A regular smart phone in a screen mount is much easier to view and most (?) speak the directions anyway; over the car audio system if you have a reasonably modern car.

      Give the complexity of junctions and roundabouts etc. I cannot see (literally) a watch doing the job properly or safely.

      Does it speak over the car audio or using what must be a very poor audio device of its own?

      1. Kevin Johnston

        Re: Things that a smart watch is good for

        "over the car audio system if you have a reasonably modern car"

        I recently replaced the audio system in my 15-year old car for exactly this reason. For £50 I got a unit which can have two devices connected through Bluetooth plus it has a USB connector for me to plug in my own music.

        Since I am not a fitness type I figure that is a good alternative to a similar prices wearable since if I am not driving I can just use my phone

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Things that a smart watch is good for

          >You are up there with car salesmen who wear giant divers watches, because who knows, they might have to adjust the time wearing thick neoprene gloves in 80feet of icy North Sea water...

          The selection of conventional watches of a sensible size (the traditional 36 - 39 mm) is surprisingly limited these days. 43 mm seem to be the norm, which is just a bit daft.

          1. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Things that a smart watch is good for

            So some guy wants to wear a big watch. Shrug. Others wear ear-rings, gold chains, rings and have tattoos. That's the way things are. I personally, wouldn't want to wear a big watch but I'm not the centre of the universe so what I want doesn't matter squat. <br/>

            Hey but maybe deriding somebody else's choices makes people feel better about themselves, for some reason of inadequacy. If that's the case then fill yer boots.

          2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Things that a smart watch is good for

            "The selection of conventional watches of a sensible size (the traditional 36 - 39 mm) is surprisingly limited these days."

            I think this is because the people who still wear watches are getting steadily older, and presbyopia favours larger dials. I recently changed from a 4 inch to a 5.5 inch screen phone nd realised I didn't need to carry my glasses with me in order to use it. My watch has a 43mm dial which is about right.

  8. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

    Niche Device

    Smartwatches seemed to be a niche device as they would be mediocre at what they do compared to other devices. There are a few situations were they are likely to be the best choice because of what they combine into one device but not many people will be in those situations.

  9. L05ER

    didn't read the article...

    smartwatches are as much a fad as tablets were 10yrs ago...

    it's going to take some time... ya fucking cynics (i say lovingly from one cynic to another) ;)

  10. 404 Silver badge
    Coat

    My watch should shoot lasers...

    ... and my phone should be in my shoe. A Cone of Silence would be nice too...

    The one with the Maxwell Smart dvd collection in the pockets.

  11. Langalf

    Who needs a smartphone on their wrist?

    I have an original Pebble SmartWatch which is all the functionality I need in a wearable. With a week of battery life, it is handy and unobtrusive. I never have a tone or vibrate on my smartphone because the Pebble will notify me. A quick glance at my wrist tells me if I need to bother with the phone right away, without having to push any buttons. And yeah, I have a big digital watch/date on the front, so mostly it functions as a watch :)

  12. picturethis
    Big Brother

    <Smart>Watches aren't very smart..

    when they aren't paired with a smartphone. And since I don't own a smartphone..... I actually like watches - I have several mechanical watches (mid-range cost) that keep the time (and date and month) very well (and can even be read at night with no external lighting) and don't require batteries, in fact they run longer between windings than most of the Smart Watches of today on a single charge and they don't lose 90% of their value after 1 year. Go figure.

    As mentioned in previous comments, poor battery life combined with ant-sized displays don't add up to being very useful. The dick-tracy watch is still a dream.. mostly because the technology to power them for more than 8 hours doesn't exist yet.

    You really gotta luv tech to put up with today's sampling of Smart Watches..I suppose the tech gods have to start somewhere, but boy the bar seems pretty low to me, at present. This coming from the guy that once bought a 1.4 Megapixel camera for $2000 circa 1997-98? :) Maybe (hopefully) I've just gotten <slightly> smarter about buying bleeding edge tech.

    Think Smartwatches are bad, wait until the self-driveling cars go mainstream.. I'll be sitting back watching the fun for those (especially the "critical - over-the-air updates that will inevitably be required). Judge: "So, Mr... Smith.. your self-driving vehicle hit and killed Mr Jones because you failed to install the mandatory "stop for people wearing a hat" update that the car manufacturer issued. As the owner of said vehicle, you are liable and here-by sentenced to prison for a period of...".

  13. Chris Gray 1
    Thumb Up

    I like mine

    I've had my Samsung Gear 2 Neo for a couple of years now, and will be fairly unhappy if it ever craps out and I can't replace it. I'm not a big phone user, so my phone battery lasts about 4 days (its an old Galaxy S4 with a new battery). So does the watch battery - I charge them both every 4th morning.

    What do I use the watch for? I use it to receive texts and phone calls mostly. Saves having to take my phone out of whatever pocket it is stuck in. In the winter, when the phone is in the inside pocket of a parka, I do *not* want to fight to get at the phone to answer it.

    I also use the watch's step counter to see how far I go on my daily walks (4500 - 22,000). Every now and then I use it to take my pulse, but that's mostly a curiosity thing. I've heard that continuous pulse taking by fitness watches can bother some folks' skin - mine does it only when you ask it to, which is fine by me.

    The Samsung watches *can* be voice controlled, for texting, calling, etc., but they use Samsung's voice recognition and it isn't as good as Google's for me.

    The watch shows events from my phone too, and lets me acknowlege them directly. Again, handy when the phone is inconvenient (e.g. on a shelf at the other side of the room).

    I have a couple of games on the watch, but rarely use them. Same for the phone.

    Folks who say that a smartwatch is useless without having ever used one for a couple of months are doing others, who might get good use out of one, a disservice.

    Note that mine does not have its own SIM - it is tied to the mothership by Bluetooth.

    1. Brenda McViking

      Re: I like mine

      I have a Sony Smartwatch2 which I got for 50 quid. Lasts around 4 days on a charge.

      At that price point, the thing made sense to me. And after around 6 months of ownership, I wouldn't go back to a dumbwatch now - whilst the added features are somewhat limited, they are useful on a daily basis, to the point where I would now be annoyed if I didn't have them. I no longer get my phone out of my pocket 20 times a day to see nothing but a linkedin notification for example. I can actually have a working speedo on my wrist riding the bike, and the "find my phone" feature alone has saved me about 10 hours of back-of-the-sofa searching by itself. I've stopped leaving my phone in the car too, as I lose connection accompanied by a buzz when it's 10-15m away.

      Equally I'm not going to shell out GBP250+ on a brand new shiny one - my watches have typically lasted me 3-5 years before looking tired and that isn't going to change just because this one has a microprocessor. So I agree with the other posters saying those that want them, probably have them by now.

  14. ifekas

    availability issues

    I like quite a few others have waited for the second revision of the Apple Watch (aka Series 2), but even though it has launched for quite a few weeks, I have found it impossible to buy from the Apple Store. They say to order it online, but I have checked and for the US the availability is approx three weeks. Without knowing how many Apple Watches are being produced it is impossible to say whether the availability issue is due to the high demand or low supply.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: availability issues

      I went the alternative route and snapped up one of the last 'new' Series zero, single cpu, 42mm watches from a FNAC online for about £230. [there should be tons of unsold Series 0 somewhere. . .?] I'm hoping that the new watchOS_3 will make it useable enough without the dual-core. . . I don't like giving any more of my cash to the Cupertino based maker of TextEdit than I have to! (they will therefore have a revenue decline next report, I bet)

      Current UK prices for the same watch with upgraded cpu run to +£69 more for Series 1, or +£169 more for yet another gps chip. I have seen a few 'refurbished' Series zero on AMZNUK markets starting at a low-ish £180, but I went for rather more of guarantee chain as it will be a present to someone who doesn't care much about the tech - but that it will look nice.

      The expensive but snappier Series two seem to be hitting blighty in late November, whilst for those in USA, best-buy is getting most watches to customers with a just two-day delay compared to the Apple postal-delivery 'month' or the slightly longer 'collect from Store' option

  15. Jemma Silver badge

    I spent twenty quid on mine..

    It can answer calls & play music over Bluetooth although it's not exactly a stellar experience, it lasts between a day and a day and a half at least, depending I suspect on whether the phone supports LE.

    It means I don't miss messages or emails, its also safer glancing at the notification on the screen than fumbling around with a mobile phone in a traffic jam for example.

    That being said its not worth £300 and neither is the general functionality of any of them, it's basically the second screen of a HTC startrek (remember them?) stuck on the wrist, which allows information to be picked up in a timely manner.. For that it's perfect..

    I think the problem for Apple isn't necessarily their price point but that there's no way to go from here. Faster processor, yes, but that's about it, people won't buy another one until it breaks (even fanbois have some self control) and that's the reason behind the slump.

    Another problem Apple have is all the generic cheap watches barely function with iOS so people who might have tried a cheap one before buying the Apple model can't, and that's more customers lost to Apple mind control.

    It's a good idea for notifications that you need to see right away and that's about it. It didn't have to be that way, imagine what could be done with a double wide screen or a t9 keyboard, like on some of the wrist phones ... But Apple did the running so everyone emulated the minimum as usual..

  16. Jemma Silver badge

    I forgot to mention my first smart watch...

    Was a chunky thing made by Fossil. Two CR2025 batteries with a battery life into months, running a GUI over a version of DOS, no touchscreen, a little joystick for navigation and the most godawful keyboard on the planet. Even ran a spreadsheet! I used that for tracking fuel consumption amongst other things.

    There was even a demo app of the backgrounds of the old castle Wolfenstein 3D game which was going to be developed into the full game (which probably would have been nausea inducing).

    The point is... If they'd put a hdmi out and a OTG enabled USB on a successor plus the ability to take sdhc cards, you'd have a fairly capable x86 PC sitting there just needing a spare monitor and keyboard. Imagine having all the drivers and relevant info for the it system on an inch x inch PC. I would have loved to carry something like that about instead of piles of cds to sites in the backend of nowhere, where it was guaranteed that the one thing you needed was the driver for the hardware that had been retired decades ago, honest.

    Instead we've got shiny useless shiny, I just love progress..

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Technology before the time

    It's just another advancement in technology that's raced ahead of the time we live in.

    Having said that, smartphones have also replaced the basic watch for a lot of people who haven't necessarily thought through the pitfalls.

    It takes longer to check a phone for the time than a watch

    It increases the risk factor of having a phone due to increased removal from pocket / presentation in areas where it might mark you out as a target

    Increased reliability on something with an inherently shorter operating window due to battery charge

    I was given a small Timex back in 1992 by my dad as a Christmas present. Think it cost around £25. I still have it, still on my wrist, and it still does the job.

    The day a techmaker reaches that level of performance, I'm on board.

  18. Richard Cranium

    Buy and try THEN comment

    I was a cynic but saw the Sony 2 for not much over 100 quid so took a gamble. I'd expected it to be a gimmick but at that price - what the hell. A year later it's my much loved Casio that's gathering dust. You will never understand the convenience unless you try one. From my perspective the discrete vibration and on screen incoming text/email is a deal maker irrespective of the other apps.

    Sure some features are gimmicks. I don't need a device to tell me I've walked 20 miles or spent 90 minutes in the gym, I already know, I was there... Anyway recent research reported that fitness trackers REDUCE the amount of exercise people take because they tend to stop exercising when they reach the tracker's target. But just because some apps are gimmicks (to me, others seem very keen on the fitness widgets) that's not grounds for dismissing the whole concept untried.

    Battery life: less than 2 days compares poorly with the 5 years of my Casio! But then that applies smart phones too, I used to have a basic Nokia with 2 week battery, now I'm lucky to get much more than a day from Nexus. It's the same trade off: less battery life, more features.

    The watch charges overnight on the bedside cabinet - and it's USB, finding USB power outlets is no problem (I've got an alarm clock with 2 USB outlets so that charges phone & watch)

    Of course Apple isn't the way to go just get an Android Wear for a third of the price of the cheapest Apple watch.

    I suggest smart-watch deniers try Android Wear for a month and come back here with educated responses based on actual personal experience.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: Buy and try THEN comment

      Naaah. I'm still charging my smartphone every day begrudgingly, seeing as how my previous smartphone had to be charged only once a week. No way I'm willing to even entertain the notion of adding another device to be charged daily to the list - my current watch (that I never take off by the way) takes about four years between battery changes and that's precisely as often as I'm willing to bother with that sort of thing.

    2. Naselus

      Re: Buy and try THEN comment

      I'd like to sell you a large box full of antelope feces for $300. You should buy and try before you comment, obviously.

      I suggest antelope feces deniers try a box of shit for a month and come back here with educated responses based on actual personal experience.

  19. Potemkine Silver badge

    I buy therefore I am

    Consumerism leads to emptyness. 'To have' cannot replace 'to be'.

    1. DropBear Silver badge

      Re: I buy therefore I am

      Suit yourself - I put a mind-numbing amount of care into choosing (and caring for) the stuff I have, and none of it is interchangeable with anything else comparable. Me and my stuff are quite tightly... interconnected... for want of a better word; I certainly strongly determine what I have, and believe it or not some part of me got infused at some point into my things - I am hopelessly, painfully incomplete without it all.

    2. Commswonk Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: I buy therefore I am

      Consumerism leads to emptyness. 'To have' cannot replace 'to be'.

      You are Confucius and I claim my £5.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Ironically

    The apple watch 2 TV advert shows that is now does all the stuff my Sony Smartwatch3 has been doing for 18+ months. #fail.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Converted...

    My gf kept asking me if I wanted one, I kept saying no, I don't see the point, but she got me one anyway, I have worn it ever since (7 months) I love it (Gear S2 Classic). Yes it's just a glorified notification system, but it's extremely useful, and it will last at least 4 days on a single charge (provided you switch ti off when not wearing it), and I think it looks pretty good too.

  22. FuzzyTheBear
    Coat

    Make it ..

    make a cell phone the size of a watch , just making phone calls , not a smart phone , just a phone and i'd get one.

    for the rest .. there's <insert brand here>

    1. Naselus

      Re: Make it ..

      This. Very much this. I don't need the ludicrous (and barely accurate) fitness functions, and I don't really want to shell out £250 for a smart-phone notification system I can strap to my wrist. But having a watch that can actually make phone calls would be an actual useful thing.

      While we're at it, why don't we just get rid of the phone function on smart phones and just outright replace them with Kindle-size tablets? The Phablet is still a friggin awkward size - too big for the pocket, too small for useful work - and the actual making of phone calls has become something of an ancillary and expendable feature of the modern Smartphone anyway. That way, we can have a dumb-phone watch for making calls and a reasonably-priced touchscreen tablet for actually doing things like reading emails and browsing the web.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Moving Forward

    "However, moving forward, differentiating the experience [blah blah]...."

    Do the pillocks who spout corporate and PR wank like "moving forward" instead of (e.g.) "in future" and "reached out" instead of "contacted" actually do so with a straight face?

    Or are they all privately aware that it's utter toss, but use it anyway as a signifier that they're in tune with current (inane) business culture?

    1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

      Re: Moving Forward

      "Do the pillocks who spout corporate and PR wank like "moving forward" instead of (e.g.) "in future" and "reached out" instead of "contacted" actually do so with a straight face?"

      I would need to interface with you in the proximate future in order to run that up a flagpole and see if anyone salutes.

      (every generation has its special jargon.)

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Fitness Bands"

    I was bought a Fitbit HR, I stopped using it because I resented the collection of MY health data. Even to change the time you have to connect to your account ....

    Why do these things have to transit every pulse-beat to some server farm in California ? Can we not just get an app that keeps your data on your local machine ? I don't want my data to be "monetized" at some later date ....

    grrrrr

    1. Paul Chambers

      Re: "Fitness Bands"

      You might want to have a look at Gadgetbridge ( https://github.com/Freeyourgadget/Gadgetbridge ). Pebble and mi band only....but no data collection except by you.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Fitness Bands"

        Thanks - at least someone recognizes the concern

    2. DropBear Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: "Fitness Bands"

      Have you got any idea what pulse-beat data that can be correlated with an ad running on a telly would be worth...?

  25. Paul Chambers

    Dumber might actually be better, except in consumers.

    I find smart watches (/dumb consumers) really fascinating from a marketing/brand perspective.

    There seems to be a level of social acceptance/visibility that is required to make things a consumer product. It appears to bear no relationship to how good an idea something is, or how well thought through the implementation.

    In this case: Apple releases smartwatch > smartwatches are a here and now tech ready to be used > vast numbers of consumers realise they've actually been sold a pup and shuffle away quietly.

    I've long had a soft spot for 'smart' watches....being a sweetspot age for the development of digital watches...remembering the first LED watches, that were like a brick on the arm and needed a button press to reveal the magical red robot numbers. Anyone who seriously thought that a computer with a tiny screen stuck on the end of your arm, that needs buttons pressing, or worse an accurate screen tap, could do anything truly useful, deserves all that they get. To then imagine that a charging routine that demands every day/night, and limitations on environmental factors (taking it off for a shower, to swim, etc) are truly living in la-la land.

    I still have an original Casio protrek titanium here. It's outlasted it's usefulness without ever needing charging or winding. It doesn't move, it just sits on the windowsill, collecting sunlight, and refusing to stop working. If I was ever stranded on a desert island that's the watch I'd want with me. I wont have it though, because it's way too awkward to wear these days. I have an original pebble, and there was a lot about that which was good. Re-charging every three to four days was a bit of a bind...but bonus marks for on wrist charging....even if the weak magnets have a tendency to pull off when hammering at the keyboard, while arguing on the internet. It did pretty much all I needed, particularly with plexfit connected to google fit (I favour google fit because it's the only really non-proprietary solution in terms of collecting from multi-vendor fitness wearables, and I don't much care if they know how lazy i really am). Except - screen tearing. Pretty much every pebble I've seen/tested/heard about has some level of screen tear develop. In my case it's terminal and renders the damn thing unusable.

    I've had a mi band pulse for notifications and steps. fit and forget, charge once a month. Very easy to wear. Unfortunately no screen, so no time, and it can be difficult to determine what vibrate patterns mean what. So the mi band 2 was worth a punt at £25. Notifies call, text, or "app" (which is programmable), doesn't do much in the way of extra function but tells the time to the latest minute, and records steps continuously, with heart rate on demand from the band. Battery re-charge ever 14+ days at least. Survives football (I am in the habit of wrapping a neoprene wrist support around a wearable while playing, and wont wear an unbreakable strap for reasons of loss of wrist) and a shower.

    I'd like seconds and a stopwatch/timer option (on wrist rather than via phone), and to be able to change "app" to a three letter code for the notifying application, but apart from that it pretty much meets my current best case usage scenario.

    Certainly better than any "smartwatch" would.

  26. Sooty

    I've tried to like smart watches, but I'm struggling.

    My first foray into them was with a Samsung Gear Fit, which I really liked. it had a reasonable battery life of a few days, and let you do quite a bit with your phone. Unfortunately my Samsung phone broke, and I replaced it with an iPhone, the promised iPhone connectivity never appearing, so it was abandoned to my drawer of technology shame.

    Much later, with the fitness band craze, I ended up getting a fitbit charge HR, which I really liked, despite a few issues. It did exactly what I wanted, tracked walking and heartrate (handy as I have heart issues) and told the time, which is sadly lacking from many fitness bands. It also, in theory, showed call notifications but that was a bit buggy. This was my 'watch' of choice for a long time, until the strap started falling apart.

    I decided to take the plunge and get a new applewatch due to the aforementioned strap failure, thinking it would be an upgrade, but it's not. It collects all the same info, and has the same features and more, but it's a pain. I have to take it off and recharge it every day, so I can forget to put it on in a morning. I can't do sleep tracking while it's on the charger either. The notifications are handy, and I like the maps, but it's just too impractical to wear long term, as it's bulky and expensive to worry about. It also doesn't collate and present the data it collects in anything like a coherent way either, although I can buy a 3rd party app that would emulate most of what the fitbit app does.

    I think I'm going to get one of the new fitbits as they have supposedly fixed the notification and strap issues on the newer model, and that was the best of all worlds for me. Not exactly a smart watch, but close enough.

  27. John Styles

    I had an early Pebble but the build quality was a bit shite. I have a Pebble Time which is much better built. I also have a Garmin for running - I assume that the market segmentation here is such that this report is ignoring Garmins (etc.) without some sort of 'smart' behaviour? Knowing lots of runners etc. I know far more people with Garmins than smartwatches (and a tiny number with the Garmins that probably do count as being smart).

    I suspect Pebble are a bit doomed and when this breaks I will have to get something not as good [Eeyore mode=true]

  28. teknopaul Bronze badge

    add a watch battery

    Why did no one in the smart watch market think to put a watch battery* and a watch in their smart watches? Then the bloody thing would never be worse than your current watch, which all current smart watches are.

    not rocket science.

    Can I patent the idea of putting a watch in a watch?

    * or solar cell, or kinetic charger, or spring, or any thing else that keeps the clock ticking.

  29. Colin Miller

    Market saturation?

    I doubt if the fad is over, I suspect that it has reached near-saturation. Almost everyone who wants to have a smartwatch now has one, and they don't see a good reason to replace/upgrade their current one.

  30. hypernovasoftware

    The Apple Watch is a Godsend for Type I diabetics.

    Using a Dexcom G5 Continuous Blood Glucose monitor I can see my blood sugar reading on my Apple Watch. For a Type I (and Type II for that matter), this information is invaluable.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Premature obituary

    Because I spend my days with my nose to the IT grindstone I feel I should be more excited about all these new toys. Maybe I'm too cynical but mostly it looks like crap. 3D TV was always a nonstarter for me, like another commentard above I am happy to say I called that. Fun for 4 minutes of demo stuff but thats about it. I see VR being the same. Novelty with some possible specific use cases but not going to replace the TV or much else in the mainstream for that matter. Certainly I've been wrong. Tablets finally seem to be waning but they've been wildly more popular than I expected, especially given how useless they are for anything other than a bit of consumption.

    Despite having said that I think smart watches are the future. Yes - there is some premature excitement from the current hype. We're not quite there yet but not far down the road, they should able to make calls, provide decent functionality and battery etc. but since its strapped to your arm you are less likely to drop it, break it, leave it on the restaurant table, etc.

    It’s not really a necessity to have an HD video camera with me everywhere I go although useful from time to time, hardly a requirement for a 'phone watch'.

    The one caveat for me would be the big screen. Certainly our ability to browse and 'find out stuff' on the fly is amazing. Maybe for this reason alone I will be wrong again......

    But just look at history. Not long ago, before the mobiles phone that told the time, most people wore watches. Not fob watches. Actual watches. Fob watches were an uncommon style choice/affectation. Most people now don't even bother with watches anymore since you get the time, and more, on your phone. Today by and large, watch = jewellery.

    I suspect there is a 'hump' of key features needed for a 'phone watch', and a few generations of speed/battery/size/price improvements. Talking on a wrist phone is currently an issue but there is an interesting Kickstarter for that (sgnl) so that too could be solved. At some point, not too far down the road, the combination of things you really need will be available in a watch. After that a phone will start to look like a dated extra people carry around, like a fob watch.

    Sure some people will not be able to give up the camera and big screen, but I think it’s hard not to see, at the least, a big place for watches going forward......

    1. Paul Chambers

      Re: Premature obituary

      I can see your argument for a wearable, through perhaps display glasses, with eye and voice (mind!) control. I can see sensors located variously, with possibly a wrist device for notification and alerts. I really cannot see the argument for a specific wrist located general computing device, and the limitations that imposes.

      Current tech, and best for most usage cases is a tricorder/handheld device supplemented with accessories (sensors, display, alerts/alarms, headsets). Something that allows the user to determine an appropriate setup.

      It's not possible to make a general purpose computer smartwatch display that my old eyes can see, that I want stuck on my wrist. Not doable.

  32. Howard Hanek Bronze badge
    Happy

    New Category of Tech

    Almost usable but stylish and trendy........for a few nanoseconds.

  33. Emmeran

    Spork sales crash

    Also demand for combination chainsaw/curling irons has also tanked.

    It's a watch people, it does one thing and does it well. Leave it alone.

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