Smart Watches: The Next Must-Have Device in the Mobile Market?

4 minute read
Virginia Backaitis avatar

Some gadgets are just too cool not to have, and a “smart” watch just may be one of them. Chances are that a good many of us will be wearing one a few years from now, if not sooner.

For those who aren’t yet familiar with the latest generation of smart watches, they promise to do a whole lot more than tell time. Because they connect to our smartphones via Bluetooth, we’ll be able to read email and text messages by looking at our wrists rather than reaching for our handsets. The same holds true for checking updates on Facebook, tweets from Twitter, and notifications from other social media platforms once the apps have been built.

All this Power on Our Wrist

And the fun doesn’t even stop there. We’ll be able to control the music players on our phones with our smart watch, track our mileage and our pace as we run or bike, get the latest weather updates, and when someone calls us when we’re busy or our hands are full, we’ll be able to look at our watches to check caller IDs and decide how we want to handle it from there.

While some might think these gadgets will appeal mostly to geeks, it’s the most active among us that may want them first. After all, who wants to interrupt a workout, a bump run, a conversation or an activity with a parent, romantic partner or child to check the message notification on a phone that won’t stop ringing, buzzing or vibrating? Being able to discreetly glance at our watches seems like so much better an alternative.

Launch a New Device

So, how popular are these watches right now? The Sony SmartWatch became available just two weeks ago at Sony retail stores and via Sony’s website, and though the company won’t release specific numbers, “We’re seeing a great deal of interest,” saysStephen Sneeden, Sony’s US Product Marketing Manager.

Orders for the Pebble: E-Paper Watch for iPhone and Android are bigger than anyone (including a bunch of venture capitalists who thought the product wouldn’t sell) thought they could be. “We’ll be shipping 60-70,000 watches in September,” says Eric Migicovsky, the twenty-five-year-old founder and lead designer of Pebble Technology.

And the App Market Follows

And as anyone who has watched the smartphone market grow knows, beautiful devices aren’t worth much without apps; so, needless to say, nurturing the app developer community is going to matter. Sony, whose SmartWatch works only with Android phones, launched with 30 apps in Google Play and by the end of this week there should be more than 60.


Pebble: E-Paper Watch

Pebble predicts that many more will be available for its watches at launch which is practically a given because its watches afford more opportunity. “We run on both Android and Apple,” says Migicovsky, which essentially doubles their market size.

Learning Opportunities

Not only that, but the watch faces for Pebble are completely customizable; this leaves app developers the opportunity to create some really beautiful and/or radical designs. By the time consumers get their hands on the watches, there could be hundreds to choose from.

And while we don’t know how many developers are busy building apps for Sony’s SmartWatch (they can be added to Google Play with our without Sony’s knowledge), more than 32,000 developers have visited Pebble’s site which suggests that they’ll have plenty to offer on Day One.

With so many apps coming available for smart watches, these hardware devices are becoming a platform.

The Competition Heats Up

There’s no doubt that the watches in this near-virgin space will work to out-feature one another as time goes by. Take for example that both these watches were advertised as water resistant and/or splash proof a few months ago. Earlier this month Pebble announced that its phone will be waterproof.

Pebble also uses an ePaper screen which means that much like a Kindle, its screen can be seen in the sun. Sony is already planning to push out a new release which will give its users the option of a digital or analog watch face and allow them to set their watches into battery-saving mode. It should be noted that other manufacturers may be making similar watches.

And while you can’t yet check into headquarters by speaking into your watch the way Dick Tracy did, he didn’t have a Bluetooth headset, and you probably do.

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