Over the last year I’ve worn a Pebble, Moto 360, Burg 12, Samsung Gear S, Samsung Gear 2, and Omate X. There are more smartwatches on the way for upcoming reviews as well. The explosion of smartwatch options and the official launch of the Apple Watch led me to ponder whether there is even any demand for such a device or if this is just a passing fad—like 3D televisions.
I conducted a survey of the TechSpective community to find out how much interest there is in smartwatches, and what features or capabilities our readers think a device like that should include.
For starters do people even wear watches anymore? It seems that the advent of the smartphone has replaced the need to wear a wrist-based timepiece for many people. I have an iPod Nano mounted to a watchband, but I haven’t really worn it in years. It was replaced with the Nike FuelBand, which I also no longer wear. My wrists are typically gadget-free unless I’m reviewing something.
According to the survey, however, I am in the minority. Two-thirds of the survey respondents do, in fact, wear a watch. It should be noted that more than three-fourths of those who wear a watch just wear a simple, traditional watch that tells time—not a smartwatch.
Not surprisingly, the response to the question “Have you ever owned or used a smartwatch?” is almost an exact match to the split between those who wear a smartwatch and those who wear a traditional watch. There is no direct correlation between the questions, but it seems to imply that virtually everyone who wears a traditional watch also falls into the camp of never having owned or used a smartwatch at all.
It also wasn’t surprising to learn that Pebble stands out as the most common device among those who have owned or used a smartwatch. Pebble claimed about 40 percent of the responses, followed by Samsung at 22 percent, and Motorola in third with 11 percent. The volume of write-in votes for smartwatch brands not listed in the survey is a testament to the diverse array of wrist-based wearable gadgets flooding the market.
Nearly two-thirds of the survey participants are interested in considering a smartwatch. Again, there is no direct correlation, but the numbers suggest that perhaps those who don’t currently wear a watch simply aren’t interested in any watch—a smartwatch or a traditional watch. If that’s true, then it would also hold true that all of those who wear a watch—including the nearly 80 percent who still use a traditional watch—are interested in what a smartwatch has to offer.
That brings us to the question of what it should offer. The different smartwatches out there offer a diverse array of capabilities, and range from minimalist devices with limited functionality to everything-but-the-kitchen-sink gadgets that try to do it all.
Survey participants were almost unanimous that a smartwatch should pair with a smartphone and be able to display notifications—text messages, alerts, and other reminders—on the device so you can stay informed at-a-glance without having to dig out your phone. Tied for second place, seven out of ten respondents also think a smartwatch should have GPS mapping or location-tracking capabilities, and health and fitness features like a pedometer and heart rate monitor. Two-thirds believe it should be able to pair with a smartphone to make or receive calls and messages directly from the smartwatch, but less than 20 percent think the smartwatch should have a dedicated SIM and be able to do those things without a smartphone connection.
With the big Apple Watch event yesterday it seemed apropos to also ask whether people are interested in or considering the Apple Watch. A little more than a third of the survey participants indicated interest in Apple Watch, while the remainder are either interested in other smartwatch models or no smartwatch at all.
The tepid interest in the Apple Watch may be closely related to the responses to the final question: “What do you think is an acceptable price to spend on a smartwatch?” More than 55 percent stated that a smartwatch should be less than $200—far less than the entry-level Apple Watch Sport model. There are about 37 percent willing to spend between $200 and $350, though, and almost six percent who believe it’s acceptable for a smartwatch to cost $350 to $500 so that still leaves a significant market of people willing to spend the bucks on an Apple Watch or a Samsung Gear 2.
I wonder if anyone had their mind changed after seeing what Apple revealed yesterday. Did any of you decide the Apple Watch is more compelling than you anticipated, or that it didn’t live up to the hype and expectations? If you’re one of the rare individuals who plans to buy an Apple Watch Edition for $10,000 or more then we definitely need to talk! Share your thoughts in the comments below—on the Apple Watch news or on smartwatches in general.