Several articles recently have laid out how smart watch sales have plummeted.
I was thinking about smart watches recently and had a real deja vu. I remember way back when a thing called the LED watch was going to take over the market. It was going the be the next big thing. It was going to replace the old, antiqued analog watches with new and improved. It was the bomb! But, it wasn’t.
The LED watch had several drawbacks which can mostly be addressed to the current smart watches.
- The battery life sucked. You were lucky to get a few months out of one battery (Smart watches have to be recharged ever night or, sometimes, more often).
- They were hard to read. If the sun was too bright you had to shield them with one hand which was really hard to do because… (Ditto smart watches).
- It took both hands to operate the watches. To view the time you had to press a button on the side. This was especially difficult if you were holding something. (Most smart watches will come on at the movement of the arm. But, if you want to see something other the the time, two hand operation).
- They were big and bulky. A real problem on my small wrist. (Yup for smart watches)
- And they were expensive. (still no where as expensive as a current smart watch).
Which is why they quickly died off after the novelty wore off.
When the LCD watches came out they were quick to replace the LED. The LCD watches addressed the issues of the LED watches; battery life, hard to read, two hand operations and, as they matured, size and price.
In fact LCD watches are still with us today in niche markets (low cost watches and specialty time pieces). Which is where I think the smart watches will eventually end up. We already see some smart watches being used successfully as fitness devices. Fitbit makes a pretty good living selling in this market. Another niche seems to be people who have an active social media life. Easier to look down at your watch for the latest tweet then constantly pulling out your phone. My guess is other niches will open up as well.
Honestly, for me, they will have to really do something about battery life, the need to have them tethered to a cell phone and reduce the size and price before I will even consider one.
In realty my perfect smart watch would show the time, all the time, in any light, be small, have a battery life of about a year, be cheap and just show the weather on demand. Other than the time that’s about all I really care about.
I’m not going to hold my breath on this one.