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Smartwatches: most owners have stopped using them

Pebble

By Shona Ghosh

Posted on 4 Sep 2013 at 16:18

Samsung is set to unveil its Galaxy Gear smartwatch - but it and other tech firms might not sell many wearable devices if they don't do a better job convincing consumers of their benefits.

The smartwatch is expected to be announced later today, and will reportedly allow users to send and receive calls and texts, access the internet and display notifications. Microsoft, Apple and Google are all reportedly working on similar devices.

But the tech giants will have to work on several factors including battery life, comfort, design and price if they’re to persuade consumers the watches more than just a fad, according to research from CCS Insight and On Device Research.

The two firms surveyed more than 1,500 smartphone owners in the US and UK and found awareness for smartwatches, Google Glass and wearable technology in general was high at more than 50%.

The smartwatch is either misunderstood or seen as trying to be like a Swiss Army knife

But ownership and interest was much lower – fewer than 20 people surveyed actually own a smartwatch and most have stopped using them.

"We’re looking at a small number of people, but it’s indicative of what the problem is – smartwatches aren’t catchy enough and don’t provide enough benefits," said analyst Marina Koytcheva.

"It was a surprise - seeing how close the number of people who own a device was to those who have stopped using it," she added. "Some people tried them and didn’t see the point. The top two answers were that they forgot to wear them, and that they got bored with them."

Poorly understood

Koytcheva added that around a quarter of respondents couldn't clearly describe the point of a smartwatch, beyond being able to tell the time.

"The smartwatch is either misunderstood or seen as trying to be like a Swiss Army knife," she said.

And although high awareness might be a promising start, Koytcheva said Samsung and other firms will have to dig deep into their marketing budget to convince users to buy, or even bundle the devices with other products.

"A few things will have to come together - displaying what the smartwatch can do, having the right apps and functionality and also the right price," she said.

Koytcheva said she expected smartwatches to start retailing anywhere between $200 to $300, which would likely prove an "issue" for mainstream consumers.

Smartwatches aren’t a new idea. Samsung itself released the first "watch phone" in 1999, the SPH-WP10, which failed to gain much traction. But publicity for the crowdfunded Pebble smartwatch, which received 250,000 pre-orders through Kickstarter, appears to have renewed interest in the category, with Google buying Android watch-maker Wimm Labs last year and Apple reportedly ordering parts for its iWatch.

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User comments

Expectations

The key here is what you expect from a smart watch. Some people seem to think they are going to have the world on their wrist, but having had a Pebble since a few weeks after they started shipping, and having worn it all the time since, I know that it lives up to what it said it would do nicely. And that wasn't too much - the functions are simple, but very effective. The app integration works well (Runkeeper shows how far I've travelled etc).

But start adding a fancy touch screen, colour, and other things and you are going to have a poor experience.

By MJ2010 on 4 Sep 2013

Price?

Surely they'll be free.

With an extortionate 24 month contract.

By synaptic_fire on 4 Sep 2013

Glue on a strap to an iPod Mini touch ...

and bob's your uncle.

What's all the fuss about?

By qwerty on 4 Sep 2013

As a now-former Pebble owner, I found that it was just a hassle.

The Pebble only ever showed you a subset of what the phone itself could tell you and it soon seemed daft to have something on your wrist when you could just reach into your pocket to use the full functionality of the phone itself. The charm of the retro design quickly wore off, leaving you wearing a cheap-looking 80s watch compared to modern elegant timepieces.

It's the same for all these other smartwatches.

After a month I sold my Pebble on eBay for a handsome profit and haven't missed it at all.

By SheffieldSteve on 4 Sep 2013

woah! What happened there?!!

By SheffieldSteve on 4 Sep 2013

No mention of Sony

Probably the largest supplier of smart watches has been Sony, so it seem strange that they have not been mentioned.

By tirons1 on 4 Sep 2013

What about ordinary watches?

They "surveyed more than 1,500 smartphone owners" and "fewer than 20 people surveyed actually own a smart watch and most have stopped using them"

But how many of those smartphone owners own and use an ordinary watch, never mind a smart one? If you just don't strap something on your wrist, because you're happy to get the smartphone out just to tell the time, then there's no impetus to strap a smart-watch on your wrist.

I'm old fashioned enough to own and wear a watch. And I seriously cannot understand why people think it's at all sensible to open the coat, dive into the pockets, flip open, swipe, and possibly unlock, just to tell the time. Oh, and put it all away again.

So yes, a quick flick of the wrist seems sensible. But will these people think it cool?

By AdrianB on 5 Sep 2013

I think that the Pebble is the best because it's Open Source and the battery keeps 7 days. If you would like to know more or buy one, you can visit - http://goo.gl/GKxaul

By spam1qaz on 7 Sep 2013

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