I’ve been thinking about the smartwatch space a bunch, and I’ve tested all the major products out there. Everyone is trying to figure out if the smartwatch will be a hit, but that’s not the right question to ask.
There are two important questions to ask about smartwatches:
- When will the smartwatch be a hit?
- What App will cause it to be a hit?
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Right now the best features of smartwatches are health-related. I am in love with the Basis Peak, which tracks my walking, running, sleep, heart rate, skin temperature, and perspiration.
It’s really helpful to know how much you’re moving and how your sleep is doing — even if you’re not really into fitness. It has awesome battery life due to a low-energy black and white screen, which gets you like three or four days of usage.
- WHEN WILL THE SMARTWATCH BE A HIT?
I’m convinced that the smartwatch needs two to five years to be a hit (defined as hundreds of millions, not tens of millions, of units sold). The reason I think we are two to five years out, is because the hardware is not ready just yet, which makes it hard to make the “killer app” for the Apple smartwatch.
Just because Apple is so loved, I predict they will sell 50m in their first year — which is a lot compared to how many iPhones (≈6m) and iPads (≈18m) were sold in their first year.
Smartwatch hardware is limited by the following:
a. The battery life is horrible because smartwatches are only slightly bigger than a stamp (Gen Y: stamps were sticky pieces of paper that were put on other pieces of paper that were sent through a network of carriers provided by the government called the “postal service”).
b. You can’t fit a 4G connection into a smartwatch for size and battery reasons — so you are dependent on Bluetooth connection to a smartphone in your pocket. This means you can’t leave the house with either your smartwatch or phone — you need both (or just the phone).
The processor speed, memory, and camera quality aren’t showstoppers because they are good enough to run most Apps.
It is going to take at least three years for the battery and 4G issues to be resolved to the point at which a smartwatch could replace your smartphone for a night out on the town.
That’s my real test: can you go out tonight and take a Facetime call, order an Uber, Tweet, Instagram, and send/receive texts? When you pass that test, the smartwatch will be a billion unit device.
2. WHAT’S THE SMARTWATCH KILLER APP?
Dick Tracy had it right. People will find video calls on their wrist addicting. In fact, I think talking into your wrist is more natural than talking into a huge slab of black glass! Especially if you have a tiny bluetooth earpiece in.
Other *possible* killer Apps (but probably just nice Apps) will include news alerts (Inside.com!), Uber and Tinder — as all will work well on the small screen size.
MY KILLER APP IDEA
However, I had a killer idea today: a standard for sending a message to someone with the reply baked into the message.
Imagine I send the following text to my wife:
“What would you like for dinner tonight: Sushi::Mexican::French”
The messaging App would know that the three cuisine choices are survey answers because of the :: and present them on her phone as “clickable replies.”
So, my wife would get the text and be able to click “French” and it would send back to me “French.”
I’ve never seen someone structure a text like this, but I think it should be the standard. Heck, can’t someone do this today before the watch gets there?