When I first got my original Moto 360, I remember being amazed at how cool it was to have a piece of tech like that fit so nicely on my wrist. Every morning, I was excited to put on my new smartwatch and show it off to the world. It became part of my wardrobe similarly to how my phone did. In fact, if there was ever a time that I did forget it, I could always feel that it was missing. Unfortunately, this attachment to my smartwatch did not last forever.
I am a fairly forgetful person to begin with, and my forgetfulness only multiplies when I am running late. When I had a schedule full of 8 AM classes, I was almost always coming in right when (or usually after) class began. I was rushing to get to class on time and continually left my Moto 360 just sitting there charging on my dresser. This was the beginning of the end of my love affair with smartwatches.
As I continually left my house without my smartwatch, it became more and more apparent to me just how little I actually needed it. Nothing in my daily routine was actually helped by having a smartwatch. In class, I could use it to glance at notifications and see if it was something I needed to respond to, but we all know that I was going to take out my phone anyway. Touchless control would have been super useful, but I already had a Nexus 6 that I could control with my voice, so I rarely used it on the Moto 360.
Even the few times I actually used my smartwatch for something other than distraction, it was never anything that I couldn’t have done in almost the same amount of time with my phone. Because I didn’t actually need my smartwatch, it was much easier to let go of than I expected. In fact, it would be almost a month before I picked it up and put it on again. I don’t fit the mold of someone who needs a smartwatch, and the big problem is I don’t believe many other people do either.
I am not an athletic person and do not exercise extremely often, so I do not have much of a use for the health features like a heart-rate monitor or exercise tracker. The only health app that I used regularly was the pedometer, and I could have just as easily used my phone. I am also not often in a place where I cannot have my phone out to check notifications (maybe some of my professors do not like it, but that does not stop us college kids). Sure, I used it to glance at my notifications when they arrived, but I always took out my phone to deal with them anyway.
At first, I thought maybe it was just me so I started looking around to see if anyone else at my college was using a smartwatch, and it turns out I am not too different from everyone else in this regard. I can probably count the amount of smartwatches I have seen on campus on two hands, and I never saw anyone actually interacting with their smartwatches. Interestingly enough, the people I assumed would have the most smartwatches (runners, bikers, athletes, etc.) were actually wearing fitness trackers like a Fitbit, if they had any wearable at all.
Of course, this is a limited sample of people to look at with the majority being students aside from the few professors that walk the grounds. But it seems like my idea that smartwatches have failed to catch on with the public is being backed up by some substantial numbers. A recent report from IDC shows that smartwatch shipments in Q3 of this year dropped over 50% when compared to the same quarter last year.
If numbers aren’t your thing, then maybe this article from CNET saying that Motorola, LG, and Huawei aren’t going to be releasing new smartwatches any time soon will show you something is up. Could you imagine a phone company not releasing a new version of its phone every year? That is exactly what is happening with smartwatches, and the main reason is the majority of people just don’t care.
No smartwatch manufacturer has made a smartwatch that convinced the public it could add another level of convenience to their lives, and because of that, the public is not buying. Surprisingly, Apple, who has a good history of introducing new products that stick, has also failed to usher in the era of smartwatches. Even athletes who seem to be the ideal match for smartwatches would often rather save some money and get a fitness tracker instead. So what can companies do to make smartwatches the hit so many (including myself) thought they would be?
They need to give us a reason to purchase one in the first place. Right now, most smartwatches only do what I can already do on my phone. I don’t need a timer on my wrist, the ability to view photos on that tiny screen, or an option to type back a response to a text. Companies need to give us features that do not exist on our phones. Only then will smartwatches begin to don the wrists of people everywhere.
I still believe that smartwatches have the opportunity to become big, and I still think they are awesome pieces of technology. But that is not enough of a reason for people to go purchase one. I will continue to wear my Moto 360 from time to time when I remember it, but I doubt it will ever become part of my daily wardrobe again. I hope that this time next year, I am wearing a fully updated smartwatch that has features I can only dream of. What features do you want to see on future smartwatches?