Smartwatches are awesome. So why aren't they more popular?
Officially, Google isn't finished with Android Wear, and neither are the companies that build watches powered by it. But I'm pretty sure that Android Wear's time has come and gone.
Barring some major breakthrough that will fundamentally change the way we use the platform, there's not much more to be done with it. On the technical side, there is a lot of cool stuff that can happen; things like integration with other IoT gear, point-to-point networking, and things that people smarter than me will think up. But to a consumer who has a fistful of money and an itch to buy something really cool, there is not a lot more that can be put on a wrist that's not already there.
This makes me wonder — why isn't Android Wear — heck, wearables in general from all companies — more popular than it is?
Don't get me wrong, I know a lot of people love their smartwatch. Android fans, Samsung fans, Apple fans, that last Pebble fan. There are millions of people who are very happy that they bought a smartwatch, and may even buy another one. Maybe. Millions of anything is not a failure, and I'm not calling Android Wear a failure. But billions of people have a phone. Billions have a traditional computer or laptop. Billions have a TV. When we first heard companies talking about putting a tiny computer on our wrists, the group mind said that billions would buy one. Billions > millions.
It's not because they don't work, either. If you haven't checked out the latest Android Wear watch, or Samsung Gear or Apple Watch, you should. They do exactly what we all wanted them to do and do it fairly well. At least with no more bugs and technical limitation nonsense than any other tiny computing product.
I have an LG Watch Sport and it can almost replace my phone and makes a great companion product to my phone. Other brands from other companies do the same and while we always want more it's tough to say that a smartwatch doesn't do the stuff we expect a smartwatch to do. They even tell time.
The only reason I can come up with is (drum roll) ... money. Few people want to spend more than they need to, and I get the feeling that smartwatches are just too darned expensive for a whole lot of people to justify the purchase. Cheaper smartwatches exist, but they will never get much of a following because they just don't do a lot outside of notifications, and for a thing that only tells you when you have a message they are probably too expensive for a lot of people, too.
This is a big nasty Catch-22 situation because if you make a product that can be a tiny phone, a fitness tracker, an authentication device, a music player, and everything else a good smartwatch can do you spend a lot of money doing it and need to charge a lot of money for it. Then when people see it on a shelf or online store they balk at the price. I don't how you go about fixing that or even if you can. Hey, I'm good at tearing gadgets apart, programming stuff and playing Skyrim. I leave economics to the professionals.
Maybe I'm wrong and it's not the price, or maybe I'm completely wrong and a gazillion people got a smartwatch as a gift last month. So I'm going to ask you — why do you think wearables didn't take off and become the new thing nobody can live without? Take a minute and let me know what you think because this is one of those things I think about when I can't sleep and would love to have a reasonable explanation for.
Until next time.
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Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.