Smartwatches Expected to Come of Age in 2013

Bernadine Racoma Apr 2nd, 2013 (DayNews)

iPod Nano

iPod Nano

Smartwatches have been around for a long time. The only problem is that they have been worn either as watches only, or as fashion accessories. The early models were capable of handling phone calls and sending text messages, and they were basically just a phone in the form of a wristwatch. With today’s technology catching up with the form factor and the processing power, it is almost time for smartwatches to boom.

State of the Smartwatch Market
On the market right now are several smartwatches which have extended functionalities. The Italian I’m Watch has a big set of ready apps for listening to music, reading email, and accessing social networks. The WIMM watch runs on its own version of Android with its own app store. It can also update, upload and download from social media via the internet. Sony also has its own smartwatch, and it can download the whole email content for reading. It does require a Bluetooth headset to make calls and to listen to music. Even Texas Instruments (TI) has a smartwatch which is under beta-release. Except for the TI smartwatch, these are all out in the market and available for sale to early adopters. Prices range from Sony’s $149 to I’M Watch’s $469 to $2,299. With these models testing the waters, tech analysts are looking at the big smartphone names which are still in the sidelines, and wondering when they would throw their hats into the ring. There are speculations that Apple has a smartwatch under development. The same goes with Samsung, with their Android version of a smartwatch.

Tech Hurdles
There are technological considerations which are considered deal breakers. For Apple, it would be compatibility and battery power. Though Apple is noted for its devices being compatible with each other, it is their devices’ battery life that makes them a cut above the rest of the competition. Google’s Android can be ported to a small form factor, but the computing power might be too limited for a lasting positive experience. Entry-level Android devices have been notoriously slow when browsing.
Nonetheless, it is just a matter of time before one of the major manufacturers come out with a product. When that happens, it is expected that the floodgates would open and all the rest of the manufacturers would try to get their products out. There is the concern that the first successful product would be able to build a large lead to control the market for years to come. Of course, the contrary opinion is that those who wait a bit more can build upon other’s mistakes, just like what Apple did when they released the original iPod. For a smartwatch to have a critical mass, it has to have a killer app, in a killer form factor. The price is debatable, in much the same way that there are only two prices for tablet or pad devices, to be successful: Apple’s iPad pricing, or the Kindle and Nexus pricing model. There is still no agreement as to what a smartwatch should be capable of doing. Smartwatches already on the market show this disagreement with their feature sets. For now, the industry is waiting to see who gets out in the market first, and who would be left behind in the ensuing mad scramble for the new market.
Photo Credit: iPod Nano LunaTik and TikTok