For some it was unbelievable when we added the smartwatch category in our tech fails and flops of 2013, and of course we still stand by our word. The new trend of watches has not yet gone mainstream, but could the smartwatch phenomenon promise to blossom in 2014 and become as popular and common sight as Smartphones?
In developing nations like ours, in order to achieve any degree of greatness, and penetration, all the major tech innovators and their smaller competitors especially the Chinese manufacturers must overcome some significant vaults.
How cheap can it get?
When the Galaxy gear was first announced, it proved to be too expensive, at over $300 (UGX 750,000) each, making it a hard sale for widespread adoption. Keep in mind that Sony has currently released a second reincarnation of it’s smartwatch at $200 ($ 500, 000). At these current smartwatch price points someone can easily opt for buying another mid-range or second-hand Smartphone instead of a smartwatch. In fact most of the devices also require a connection to a Smartphone via Bluetooth or WiFi, which implies that users face the added cost of the Smartphone and an internet or data bundle. Until of recent the smartwatches also lacked practicality and mostly run fewer than 18 smartwatch apps. If only all smartwatches would come in a more affordable package, we predict their quicker adoption by the masses.
Lifting the burden off the Smartphone
The value proffer of smartwatches is unclear so far and am sure most of you agree with me. Every single use of a smartwatch is a replica of what a Smartphone can offer — only with a smaller screen — as you can check your smartwatch for a text message or email or use it to find the time or a weather forecast. The major difference is that you will not need to dig into a pocket or purse to find your Smartphone. Stick a nano SIM and cell phone radio into a smartwatch and you will have yourself a “Smartphone Watch”. So will this so called “lifting the burden off the Smartphone” be reason enough to attract users to following the Smartwatch revolution? The answer is YES Smartphones are getting bigger in screen size by the day and more cumbersome to pull out of the pocket or purse just to check a simple SMS or email notification. So to see an increase in the adoption of smartwatches in 2014 will be a welcome trend to address such issues.
Gender insensitivity & Weak Designs
Some smartwatches come with extra functionalities like fitness monitoring, others have cameras, microphones, and speakers. Beyond those basic price and functionality hurdles, some of the early smartwatches are not aesthetically pleasing to look at and far too large especially for women to wear on their wrists.
According to J.P. Gownder, an analyst at Forrester.
“Vendors need to up their game on design. They should partner with jewelry and clothing vendors. Tech firms just aren’t equipped to deal with fashion by themselves.”
Some analysts feel that these manufacturers are making phones that are meant for males to wear, as they are missing a big chunk of the market. So with the right design proposition on the smartwatches we shall see 2014 soar high for this new category.
Carrying the Smartphone Battery life disease
In order for a smart device to succeed, it should have the impeccable battery technology. In my opinion Smartphones have hugely failed at this, as each and every year there is a huge increase in features and improved hardware but a small stride on battery longevity. Am afraid the same disease will affect the Smartphone category if not now then very soon.
A sneak peak into the future
With the current rumors pointing towards a watch from Apple for 2014, we cannot be certain yet if it will be the holy grail of smartwatches, we can’t wait to wonder if the device will finally show us what a Smartwatch should really look like or function. Smartwatch sales have also not be clear and not enticing enough for more manufacturers to join the bandwagon, or are they? currently Samsung claims they have sold 800,000 Galaxy Gear devices, though the number has not been confirmed yet.
A startup company called Pebble unveiled a $150 smartwatch with funding from 85,000 investors through Kickstarter. So far they have been able to ship more than 200,000 since its unveiling in early 2013. Pebble says that “thousands” of developers are working on Pebble apps. Some of the apps coming soon include iControl, which can control home alarms and some social apps.
Future smartwatches are predicted to have voice and gesture activation capabilities, which would go a long way toward reducing the need for a large touchscreen interface ushering in new sleeker designs. For now we can only be sure that Smartwatches are a wearable technology, especially that they are still barely beyond infancy and will likely see significant innovation in the coming year.