Some Thoughts on Smart Wearables
People said similar things about mobile internet devices (Smartphones, old Windows Phones, PDAs, Nokia Internet Tablets) to what some are now saying about Glass. Back before the iPhone, and really for several years after Android’s introduction, people kept asking why they needed to be able to check their email when they were away from their desk, as if that’s all a smartphone was good for. There was a niche market for this that BlackBerry did a great job of serving. This viewpoint is incredibly myopic, and I am of the opinion that it is a similarly myopic view of smart wearable devices. For smartphones, there was a game changer (actually probably a few, but I’ll focus on one) that came into play that took the smartphone from a ‘nice to have’ to a necessity, and that was real time navigation.
Real time navigation was a very clear example of a use case that strongly favored the smartphone over existing technology, and it was something that more and more people were becoming interested in. More and more people were starting to buy dedicated GPS devices at price-points between $200-$500. This device did one, and only one thing, and it did it in a relatively fixed and frustrating way. Android came out with Google Maps, as well as several other low-cost real time navigation apps with different feature sets, at a price-point of under $200, and it did a lot of other really great stuff. What’s more, the navigation experience was sure to improve over time, whereas the dedicated unit would require expensive map updates, and eventual replacement. There were also features that were very difficult for the dedicated units to do, like real-time traffic updates.
Other killer smartphone features are over-the-top calling and messaging, which can provide a much better experience than those provided by the phone companies. At this point, it’s a low-cost full-fledged computing platform. You can even write Android apps from your Android phone (not that I have any idea why someone would want to do that). Email on the go is nice, as is checking the web. And, there are tons of other really incredible mobile experiences that don’t make sense on PCs or other platforms.
Now, back to wearables. Is it possible that it’s just a bit too early to be discounting several totally novel ways of interacting with smart devices? Is it possible that there may be some applications that once released would be market drivers, and really sell the notion of smart wearables to the masses? Do you think that there’s a possibility that whoever figures out what that product is will become a huge player, worth billions of dollars? Do you still want to ignore this still untapped market? I know that I don’t want to miss what’s next. And, to be sure, I think that’s going to come from some currently unknown (or barely known) developer, who really hits it out of the park.
So yes, it may be early in the game, even too early for some, but if you want to get a head start, now’s the time to start running.