Feeds

Google wearables: A solution looking for a rich nerd

Some revolutions never happen. This might be one of them

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

+Analysis If you've spent any time looking at transport technology - how cars and trains got here - you've got a head start over most VCs and pundits in understanding wearable computing. I'll explain why.

Google's Android Wear is the biggest deal in wearable computing since Microsoft's abortive SPOT 12 years ago.

And Google hasn't waited for technology to get smaller or better or cheaper - it's forging ahead, creating a platform while others hesitate. It wants to tame the Wild West that is wearable computing today - or, more accurately, own it. So instead of "inventing" wearable computing, Apple will now be obliged to "re-invent" it. And looking at the developer documentation, Google's done a nice job.

But the really big questionmarks over this market haven't yet been addressed. Beyond the fitness/health niches, all the general purpose wearables today are really a consumer "solution" looking for a problem. The benefits (current and future) accrue entirely to the manufacturer. They get more data about us in their vast data warehouses, or increase their footprint in areas which might be useful in the future, such as home automation. This is all still technology push.

What's in it for us?

No doubt it's good for Google, as the world's largest personal data collector, for us all to convert to Android Wear. It will be another gold mine for the spooks. The data industry finds another part of the analog world to record and analyse. But there's no sign of any significant demand, or pull.

That's because the wearables today simply don't add much convenience to our lives - but still incur a add a considerable cost and inconvenience of their own. Give me a wearable that I didn't ever have to recharge, or only needed to recharge once a month, that cost under £20, and that gave reliable notifications of calls or messages received on my phone, and instantly gave me a zoomable map - and maybe then we're talking.

Has Google solved any of this with Android Wear? Well, look at the video - and you tell me.

In this 90-second video, you will see a smartphone just once. At 10 seconds in, somebody is looking at a phone as they board a bus. (Is it a Google Bus, about to be overturned by anti-capitalist protestors? We never find out).

The most striking thing in this phone-less imaginary world is how much convenience the Android Wear watch offers over having No Phone. But how little it offers to anyone already carrying a phone - especially carrying one in their hand.

These are what people in the video use their Wear device to do: receive traffic info, receive weather info, an electronic boarding pass, send a text message, ID music, and open a garage door. How many of these applications or services were touted by Microsoft for SPOT 12 years ago? Almost all of them. How many are not in smartphone apps we already use daily? Possibly the garage door. That's it.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Next page: Steam and diesel

More from The Register

next story
4K video on terrestrial TV? Not if the WRC shares frequencies to mobiles
Have your say with Ofcom now, before Freeview becomes Feeview
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
You didn't get the MeMO? Asus Pad 7 Android tab is ... not bad
Really, er, stands out among cheapie 7-inchers
Apple winks at parents: C'mon, get your kid a tweaked Macbook Pro
Cheapest models given new processors, more RAM
Leaked Windows Phone 8.1 Update specs tease details of Nokia's next mobes
New screen sizes, dual SIMs, voice over LTE, and more
YES, iPhones ARE getting slower with each new release of iOS
Old hardware doesn't get any faster with new software
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.
Maximize storage efficiency across the enterprise
The HP StoreOnce backup solution offers highly flexible, centrally managed, and highly efficient data protection for any enterprise.