Smartwatch report suggests big changes are needed for public acceptance

Are you a big smartwatch fan? Convinced that wearables are the way mobile tech is headed? We very much like the cut of your jib, but being an early adopter isn’t always for everyone; just how much interest does the public really have in wearables, and is there anything the manufacturers could be doing to get them more interested? A new report from Jan Dawson, Chief Analyst at Jackdaw Research, paints a pretty bleak view of the market, citing low consumer interest and a poor selection of devices, and suggests that something big needs to change if smartwatches are really going to take off.

The study looks at the attitudes of a few thousand people in the US and the UK towards smartphones and wearables, and one of the problems it identifies is that the big selling points of current-gen smartwatches aren’t things a lot of people are interested in. While dedicated smartphone users can live or die based on how well their notifications are working, the public at large seems to have little interest in push notifications. Similarly, interest in fitness trackers isn’t too strong, with only 1 in 5 respondents having used one at all.

gear-live-small-hateThen again, a smartwatch is more than the sum of its parts, but if shoppers are just looking at a bullet list of features, it might be tough to pick out ones that are really compelling to them. That’s why the report suggests that we’re going to have to see some innovative new features arrive to help stimulate interest: maybe something like a very graceful mobile payments system, or working as an identification token for our phones or other devices (like we talked about on the Weekly last Friday).

And while it tries to avoid putting a lot of pressure on Apple, the report reflects what a lot of us have been thinking about the rumored iWatch, that Apple might just be the entity to deliver enough new functionality, or really spice up existing features, to the point that the public finally starts responding.

In the same vein, it warns other manufacturers against delivering cookie-cutter smartwatches that fail to differentiate themselves – a possible death sentence for Android Wear, where the name of the game is everything-working-(nearly)-the-same. Sure, the Moto 360 may inspire us with its looks, but what then? How does the platform innovate from there?

It’s also possible that someone could shake things up by tackling a major technical milestone: deliver a charge-once-a-week battery, or find a way to make a watch with no elaborate LCD/AMOLED display just as functional as one with a screen. But however it happens, the big takeaway here seems to be that some kind of major shift needs to happen if smartwatches are ever going to evolve beyond niche products and see the sort of popularity smartphones themselves enjoy.

Source: Jackdaw Research

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About The Author
Stephen Schenck
Stephen has been writing about electronics since 2008, which only serves to frustrate him that he waited so long to combine his love of gadgets and his degree in writing. In his spare time, he collects console and arcade game hardware, is a motorcycle enthusiast, and enjoys trapping blue crabs. Stephen's first mobile device was a 624 MHz Dell Axim X30, which he's convinced is still a viable platform. Stephen longs for a market where phones are sold independently of service, and bandwidth is cheap and plentiful; he's not holding his breath. In the meantime, he devours smartphone news and tries to sort out the juicy bits Read more about Stephen Schenck!