Mainstream smartwatches carry little value , hence they "suck". An no - fashion is not really a good value for most people - or else they would have wore regular watches.
On the other hand, niche watches(and wearables) can carry a strong value. There is/was a strong market for wearables for runners with all those limits.
So there's a need to :
1. Define a lot of the niche use cases of wearables .There are enough. People have enough real problems that can be helped by wearables.
2. Build a horizonal platform that could programmably serve many of those needs, hence achieving scale, and good prices.
My theory is that given a real use and decent prices many people will be willing to settle on battery life on the one hand(or not settle, they'll only need it a few hours a day) , and on the other hand , volumes will drive improvements.
There were wearables that used preventing sexual assault, carbon monoxide poisioning , saving kids from drowning ,sensing asthma irritants , tracking your kids - those are strong needs. People are willing to charge a wearable for them.
I totally agree with you, Jim. The first vendor which developed a wristwatch, in fact, turns out to be none other than Cartier. Brazilian aviator Santos Dumont -- who was living in Paris -- had asked Cartier to develop a watch he can wear around his wrist. (Until then there was no such thing called a wrist watch!) While he was flying, the aviator needed to check his time but he didn't want to waste his time by taking out a pocket watch from his pocket. (Much like most young people today reach into their pocket to look for a smartphone to find what time it is now)
The McGregor Rule - To be successful in wearables, it must be fashionable or invisible! I agree with the smartwatch evaluation. I believe it is jewelry makers that have the best shot at making smartwatches a success.
One thing that's not clear to me is this: after having acknolwedged that the current generation of smartwatches suck, where should they go from here? Will the whole concept of smartwatches need to be redefined? Or with no immediate technologies out there to solve battery issues, will there be no way out for smartwatch vendors?