Tech on your wrist: The new trend?
Forget about forking out hundreds of pounds on a designer watch – the next trend said to be hitting the high street is the Apple iWatch. According to sources, the Cupertino-based tech giant is in the process of readying the piece of wrist-tech that will reportedly sync with iPhones and iPads to offer functionality such as music controls and messaging notifications.
According to the New York Times, the Apple iWatch will feature an Intel chip and a 1.5-inch OLED RiT display, and it’s thought that electronics company Foxconn will be manufacturing the piece of kit. All this sounds very plausible, but will Apple be able to make its iWatch the next big thing?
Although the news of iWatch has sent tech blog geeks into an excitable tizzy, this concept of a smart watch is not a new one. Many a manufacturer has attempted to create wrist devices that offer mobile phone functionality. Although some of these watches proved popular, especially within the sports niche, the concept of a smart watch has never really taken off.
Devices that are similar to the rumoured iWatch include the Sony SmartWatch, which works by syncing with Android devices via Bluetooth. The Sony SmartWatch offers features such as the ability to view messages, calendar notifications, and social networks. As well as Sony’s offering, there is the MotoACTV sports smart watch that provides distance stats, and info on pace and calories burned.
LG also had a crack at creating a bit of watch tech known as the LG GD910, which is more advanced than the aforementioned smart watches in the sense that it houses a SIM card and offers video call functionality. In the same way that a mobile phone deals with everyday communications, the LG GD910 offers calling and texting.
The LG GD910 held a lot of promise at the time of its launch at CES 2009, and on paper, it seemed to fulfil the James Bond fantasies of boy’s everywhere. However, a combination of a hefty £500 price tag, coupled with functionality that failed to live up to expectations meant it failed to reach a mass audience.
Far from offering a slick 007 experience, the LG GD910’s video calling offered poor audio that sounded very tinny, and image reproduction was equally as dire. The device’s 3G connectivity proved temperamental too, often dropping out during video calls. When compared to the high standard of functionality offered by a smartphone of the same price, the compromise wasn’t worth it.
Do we really need smart watches?
In a word, no. There’s nothing that a smart watch can do that you can’t do with your smartphone. But, the benefits of a smart watch are it’s smaller for ease of transportation, and it’s strapped to your wrist so it’s harder to lose or break. There’s also the added bonus of being able to view notifications instantly, saving the few seconds that you would lose having to extract your mobile from a pocket or bag.
On the other hand (or should that be wrist?), smart watches can be fiddly to use because of their small displays. We also seem to be in an era where phablets are everywhere, smartphone displays are getting larger, and people seem to like big tech. But, in the geeky quest for gadgetry, there’s always going to be the desire to have something that little bit different that goes against the grain.
Because Apple has such a big following it could prosper where others have failed by using its persuasive marketing strategy. Old Camp Cupertino does seem to have the habit of taking an existing idea, putting its own stamp on it, then passing it off as revolutionary kit. For example, the Microsoft MS Tablet was released in 2002, years before the iPad was launched in 2010, yet Apple managed to corner the slate market as its own. If you ask people to name a tablet nowadays, it’s likely the first that would come to mind would be the iPad.
Of course, Apple will have to learn from the mistakes of manufacturers that have gone before, but this is a process with which it seems pretty familiar. Above all, the iWatch will have to offer the same quality and standard of design and functionality as other Apple products to succeed. And it’s got to be cool. But when it comes to marketing its products as aspirational, Apple has already got it nailed.
This guest post was written by Abbi Cox of Phones 4u, who have the latest smartphones at amazing prices.