Smart Watches? No.

So as reported it seemed that everyone and their competitor is trying to make a Smart Watch. Microsoft has one apparently made of “Transparent Aluminum“, welcome all sorts of Trek jokes. Apple is aiming for something in 2014 according to the news..

Pebble’s kickstarter did well but I’m thinking it’s kind of the Ouya of watches – an interesting experiment.

But my take?

Not going to work.  No big new market.  No iPhone like fad.  Nothing to warrant everyone out there making a Smart Watch.

Oh sure, some will sell. Some will succeed. But do I think this is the next big thing? The next iPhone? The next tablet?


I don’t want to rain on anyone’s parade, but here’s why I think the future of tech-watches won’t be the big thing (while being a viable market for some fortunate ones). This could be affecting your career if you’re in technology, marketing, and development – and my advice is to not bet the career farm on it.

Because there are reasons I see it not panning out – and perhaps being a crash-and-burn market:

Screen Size: First, there’s only so much you can do with a watch screen as those suckers are tiny. Time, some data, alerts, etc. The real estate provided limits opportunities (and with the limits . . . why get one?).  Will it be worth getting a Smart Watch?

App Development: Developing for smartphones and tablets required adaption, but a lot of the metaphors still work. Watches provided even more limitations, making what can be done and adapted even more limited. Likely apps will often coordinate with other devices – which is limited and a potential for error.

Duplicate Devices: If you’ve got a laptop, a tablet, and a phone, I think you’re probably at the limit for devices that have to be electronic. The watch might work for some device coordinating and combining, but I don’t see it having wide-ranging usefulness.

Price: I can’t seeing smart watches providing much new stuff for the price. I don’t even use a watch – I just use my phone.

Competition: Though, as noted I think there is a market, at this rate everyone is getting into it. So in short, some people are going to loose and loose big, and perhaps big enough to damage a potential viable market for awhile.

Limited Market Awareness: I also think that the “watch” market is being jumped on too quickly – it seems to have just “happened.” That to me says there’s a chance for misassumptions, missteps, and serious errors.  Also frankly I don’t see a wide demand.

Bandwagon A-Go-Go: The Bandwagoning also has me worried – that we’re a case of it not just being a “thing that came around” to build a new market, but the mass way everyone is jumping on it.  I’m concerned not only about failures, but even good ideas failing.

So no, I am not jazzed on smart watches. There’s too many barriers to success, the target market is probably pretty small, and I think there will be lots of fallout.

Now I’m not down on wearable computers. I think there is room for them (actually, I think Leela has the right idea in Futurama). But it’s not going to be a hot market we can all build our careers on, and not one that’s going to be that predictable or stable.

– Steven