SAN FRANCISCO—More than 1.2 million so-called smart watches are expected to ship in 2013 thanks to a number of new models that have emerged in recent months, according to market research firm ABI Research.
Smart watches have been around for a decade, but have largely failed to take off due to lack of visual appeal, bulkiness, weak functionality and battery life, according to ABI. But over the past nine months, a number of new smart watches have emerged that could change consumers' perceptions, ABI said.
Joshua Flood, a senior analyst at ABI, said the strong potential emergence of smart watches can be attributed to several factors.
"Contributing factors include the high penetration of smartphones in many world markets, the wide availability and low cost of MEMS sensors, energy efficient connectivity technologies such as Bluetooth 4.0, and a flourishing app ecosystem," Flood said.
Apple Inc. is widely rumored to be preparing an "iWatch" wearable computing device that offers smartphone-like functionality. On Monday (April 15), it was widely reported that Microsoft Inc. is also prepping a smart watch of its own.
According to ABI, smart watches can be split into four categories: notification types, voice operational smart watches, hybrid smart watches and completely independent smart watches. Notification type devices are the MetaWatch and Cookoo smart watches, for example, offering alerts for incoming calls, messages and other notifications, ABI said. Voice operational smart watches enable users to conduct calls and speak some commands via the device such as Martian’s smart watch, the firm said.
Standalone smart watches with their own OS are moving beyond a smartphone accessory, ABI said. With the potential to be purchased as a standalone product without the need for a smartphone, they offer high functionality and can connect to other consumer devices like audio speakers, the firm said.
An example of a standalone smart watch is offered by the Italian firm I'm Watch, ABI said. The rumored iWatch, the rumored Microsoft watch and Samsung’s Galaxy Altius also fit into this category, ABI said.
"Smart watches that replicate the functionality of a mobile handset or smartphone are not yet commercially feasible, though the technologies are certainly being prepared," adds Flood. Related stories:
I do not see much of a market for watches. They are obsolete relative to a smart phone, which can tell the time just fine. Tablets and smart phones are what most people need, along with a laptop for work and school. Most electronics are just commodities these days.
A smart watch is an adjunct, not a replacement, for a phone. I started wearing a Pebble recently, after not wearing a watch for some years, and it is convenient to have time and notifications on my wrist rather than having to dig in my pocket for the phone.
Smart watch screens are too small and impractical. In fact, this is why the tablet is making so much progress alongside the smartphone. Most people I know who have smartphones have migrated or are migrating to the bigger screen smartphones.
Anyone remember when the first LED digital watches came out. These were then replaced by watches with LCD displays. Ironically, it seems like the good 'ol analog watch may be more popular today than the digital watch. It will be interesting to see where the smart watch goes.
I think the key difference this time is that the smartwatch is connected to smartphone (or information network). A wristwatch has been the place to check the most important information (i.e. current time) for achieving job efficiently. Today, email and SNS msgs are a part of such info. In that sense, I agree with what NTKN says above.
I think Smartwatch's often overlooked setback is that it usually requires two hands; one hand or wrist to wear the device and the other to operate it. This is an unfavorable condition, considering most users can operate a smartphone with one hand. It could be great if a technologies like the following gets applied... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10bzMZJO4Vk