I bought a smartwatch as an experiment, and I liked it

Smartwatch sales are set to explode by 2020, according to a NextMarket Insights report from 2013. And according to a more recent CCS Insight’s global forecast, “by 2018 over 250 million smart wearables will be in use, 14 times more than in 2013.”

That’s a lot of people and a lot of wearables. What will these gadgets do? A lot of things apparently:

Let’s reflect on one aspect: “50% of wearables sold by 2018 will be smartwatches.” That’s impressive, considering that most people today don’t even know what to do with a smartwatch. The cultural change is going to be massive.

When talking about smartwatches, there is one question I’ve got repeatedly, “why do you want such a thing?“, and the answer was sometimes “not sure” and most of times “to receive notifications“. This clearly shows one thing about myself: I don’t really need a smartwatch or at least I’m not sure what to do with one.

Nonetheless, Black Friday came with a great deal: a Pebble for $80, so I started thinking of possible use cases (mostly to find an excuse to buy it). Would I save battery life if the phone didn’t vibrate and didn’t turn on its screen every time I received a notification on the Pebble?

The answer, as it turns out, is yes. I’ve been enjoying a new Pebble smartwatch for 9 days now and guess how many times I’ve charged it since the initial unboxing and charge… none. That’s right, it’s still running on its first charge. And more importantly, my phone lasts 2 days without problems.

Is Pebble a smartwatch for everyone? Absolutely not. In fact, if you are interested in fitness you should get something else, like the Basis Peak, the Fitbit Surge, or the Microsoft Band.

There is indeed a duality in the smartwatch world: fitness-oriented and productivity-oriented gadgets. The last time I talked about wearables I wasn’t sure, but I can confirm now that I’m not interested in the fitness part. It’s not like having notifications on my wrist makes me much more efficient, but it definitely helps me avoid taking my phone out of my pocket so often; it only takes me a quick glance at my wrist to realize I can ignore the notification, saving time and battery.

Every potential buyer will have to go through this process of analyzing why do they want a smartwatch and what would they use it for. As noted above, almost 7% of the population in developed markets will own a wearable device, which makes me wonder, how will our society change in this regard? Will people start seeing a real value on smartwatches? Or will people buy one as an experiment, like I did?

My bet is that we will change without realizing it: smartwatches are today what smartphones were 20 years ago, something unnecessary, apparently made by and for geeks, with no clear value in our daily lives. Isn’t it funny that by 2018 (in only 4 years!), this post could be completely out of date? For me, it’s fascinating.

Images via CCS Insight

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3 thoughts on “I bought a smartwatch as an experiment, and I liked it

  1. Great post! My biggest pet-peeve with smartwatches is that to my taste they still aren’t fashionable enough (I’m eagerly waiting to see how the Apple Watch turns out, but I still haven’t seen a model I’d trade my current watch for). I’d love to see a collaboration between a fashion designer and one of the big Tech companies, then probably I’d be super interested. I’m definitely in for the longer battery on my smartphone (hadn’t even thought about that yet but it sounds like a great advantage). Will look forward to what big companies start to do to make these more “marketable” :).

    • That’s definitely true… the Pebble is functional, but it’s not precisely fashionable. The only problem I foresee with the Apple Watch is the battery life… charging it every day sounds like a hassle, but other than that, it looks like a beautiful product. I’m also eagerly waiting to see the market’s reaction. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Why the Apple Watch will be a success | Geek on record

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