Smarts vs. Style: Finding a Balance in Wearable Technology

When firms like Samsung and Apple rolled out the first editions of their smartwatches, the wearable technology had many fun and practical features but lacked the style that appealed to traditional watch wearers. Sluggish sales and poor consumer adoption has forced these companies to reimagine their smartwatch products to appeal to a wider consumer base. For instance, Samsung’s Gear S Watch line places more emphasis on style and fashion than it did in its original watch. As the wearable technology market evolves, tech firms and traditional watchmakers are trying to find the right balance of smart features and attractive style.

Companies have met this challenge with hybrid smartwatches or smart analog watches that combine a traditional watch foundation, with helpful tech features. Fossil’s Hybrid Smartwatch looks and feels exactly like a mechanical watch but offers notifications, biometric tracking, Bluetooth connectivity, and even music control. Tag Heuer just introduced a Connected Modular 45 watch that offers a touchscreen display and similar connectivity features, but the components of the watch are interchangeable so the user can switch to a regular mechanical watch with ease.

The smart analog market is dominated by traditional watchmakers, and it seems that they have a leg up on a growing consumer trend. As reported by the New York Times:

A January study by the British consultancy Juniper Research predicted that although early interest in multifunctional smartwatches had waned, the “basic smartwatch” category could rise to nearly 40 percent of the $21 billion smartwatch industry in five years, up from 30 percent today.

Smartwatch technology and design are still very new compared to other wearable technologies, and may be too early to tell how consumer sentiment and taste will shape these products. The spectrum of technology in smartwatches is also very wide. Some watches offer full-fledged internet connectivity while others simply vibrate when you receive a call or text. This variety is a result of the lack of market information that smartwatch makers have in the early life cycle of their technologies.

Further, consumers have only had access to smartwatches for three or four years which means watch buyers are still trying to figure out exactly what they want. In a few years, when consumer interests are more easily identifiable and solidified, we may see a narrower array of smartwatches, but until then consumers can enjoy a smartwatch market that offers as much, or as little, technology as they need.

Read more from NYT.

Image Source: Samsung

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