Feeds

Time has already run out for smart watches

Ugly, limited, devices are a wind up

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

It's been a big year for smart watches.

First, rumours that Apple glanced at its wrist and imagined what an iWatch might look like hit the web. This week at CES Toshiba showed off a smart watch, as did a clutch of aspiring watchmakers like Cookoo, Martian and I'm Watch. Then the long-awaited Pebble watch with ePaper for a face finally emerged.

Analysts told The Reg none will be a hit.

“Functionality-aside, a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication,” said Tham May Ling, head of personal accessories at analyst outfit Euromonitor International.

Sophistication is something “clunky smartwatches simply do not convey,” she said, adding that aside from Japan's Casio “there is hardly interest on part of watchmakers to dabble in this area.”

Euromonitor's head of consumer electronics, Loo Wee Teck, feels the smart watch market just won't happen.

“Smart watches try to replicate the smartphone experience on a minuscule wrist-sized screen, which translates to inferior usability or otherwise seek to complement and extend the functionality of smartphone onto a smaller screen,” he told The Reg. “Either way, users will find it frustrating to use.”

He therefore predicts only niche sales for smart watches, comparing them to e-readers as a product category that might make sense to a small market for a short time.

Gartner, meanwhile, sees no likelihood of smart watch success. The analyst is on the record as predicting that “wearable smart electronics” will become a $US10bn industry by 2016 , but the full prediction sent to The Register does not mention watches among the devices that will contribute to those sales.

Analysts Angela McIntyre and Adib Ghubril believe fitness gadgets, tiny voice-activated mobile phones in form factors akin to Bluetooth headsets, gadgets like Google Glass, medical devices and something it calls “digital tattoos” will win sales. Wearable military gadgets will also emerge.

The firm nonetheless feels CIOs need to start thinking about smart devices, to understand how the data they create “can be used to improve worker productivity, asset tracking and workflow.”

Another of the analysts' predictions suggests “Organizations will be able to use wearable smart electronics to improve workers' efficiency and provide fitness incentives to employees that reduce corporate healthcare costs.”

That sound you hear is Reg readers proclaiming the boss can monitor their health remotely over their dead bodies, which they have every right to poison with the food and drink of their choice.

Happily, arguments about that issue won't be necessary for today's smart watches, as they can't do that kind of thing. But that begs a question about just why anyone is targeting a market with products it seems no one wants?

Euromonitor's Tham May Ling has one possible answer: she says the global watch market is worth $US56bn, a revenue stream it's surely worth trying to tap. ®

The essential guide to IT transformation

More from The Register

next story
So, Apple won't sell cheap kit? Prepare the iOS garden wall WRECKING BALL
It can throw the low cost race if it looks to the cloud
Samsung Gear S: Quick, LAUNCH IT – before Apple straps on iWatch
Full specs for wrist-mounted device here ... but who'll buy it?
Apple promises to lift Curse of the Drained iPhone 5 Battery
Have you tried turning it off and...? Never mind, here's a replacement
Now that's FIRE WIRE: HP recalls 6 MILLION burn-risk laptop cables
Right in the middle of Burning Mains Man week
HUGE iPAD? Maybe. HUGE ADVERTS? That's for SURE
Noo! Hand not big enough! Don't look at meee!
AMD unveils 'single purpose' graphics card for PC gamers and NO ONE else
Chip maker claims the Radeon R9 285 is 'best in its class'
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?