The smartwatch product category remains awkward. The hardware design is improving. The interface design is improving as well. What we haven’t fully grasped yet, is what would we do exactly with a smartwatch that could help us all transition from “Not sure why I’m about to spend $300 on this.” to “I need this. Now.”
There is valid criticism out there that the smartwatch was popularized in the same era that Go-Go-Gadget was popular and that we’re holding onto something that today doesn’t carry real potential to impact our lives. Nike, for example, recently started ramping down their Fuelband collection, perhaps in recognition that “Fuelpoints” don’t mean or do anything for their customers.
Here are three things that need to happen to help us better understand the true utility of such a device.
1. Do something my smartphone can’t currently do.
Smartphones can do a lot today. They can help you find a loved one, order a sandwich, and find a new house. That’s pretty impressive. Still, there is a lot up for grabs. Currently, my smartphone does a terrible job of reminding me when I left my smartphone at home. Perhaps a watch can solve that problem. My smartphone also does a terrible job of effortlessly tracking my heartrate. I have no idea what my current heartrate is, what it should normally be and how it might relate to stress. Helping me have a healthier life will help me also have a lighter wallet when it comes time to make the purchase.
2. Do great things without the smartphone around.
The smartphone will be able to stand its own ground at the point that it doesn’t have to rely on my smartphone to be meaningful. Most of the time the two will likely be quite close to each other, but enable me to go on a run without having to strap my phone to my arm. Or make a call to someone with just the watch and a pair of headphones. Sending a text message from the phone in my pocket to my watch might help me be a little more discreet
3. Hardware design is just as important as interface design.
We have seen enough smartphone watch market entrants that a wide range of both hardware and interface designs. Casio came out of the gate early when they tried to adapt their famous G-Shock into a bluetooth-enabled watch. Pebble is already selling new iterations of its smartwatch. Nike initially hit it out of the park with their Fuelband, but there were some reported issues with its comfort and minimal UI design, among other factors, that led to its wind down. Excelling in appearance, functionality and interface design will all be key components to new market entrants.
The current market temperature of the smartwatch is similar to the early days of when the tablet was starting to gain in popularity. People were purchasing tablets, but weren’t sure what to do with them. We still have a hard time pinning down the tablet as a device to create or simply consume and enjoy. Perhaps the smartwatch will remain in a similar limbo; nonetheless, the team here at Handsome is excited to see where this will all head next.