Unattractive designs, expensive price tags and lack of functionality, these are some of the factors that will steal the thunder from smartphones as consumers begin shopping for the festive season. Gartner reports that spending will remain focussed on tablets this holiday. But by introducing smartwatches to the market, manufacturers won’t be able to compensate for the slow spending on smartphones. Consumers are not convinced on the necessity of acquiring smartwatches.
“The products we’ve seen so far have been rather uninspiring in terms of design, available apps and features. There are still several significant barriers to mainstream adoption, including low interest and awareness among consumers, poor design and price.” – Annette Zimmermann, principal research analyst at Gartner.
To justify the price tag, smartwatches have to balance between interoperability and independent function. Smartwatches are currently regarded as fashion accessories but the designs already in the market do no justice to fashion which explains the slow adoption by the mainstream.
Key to this lack of appeal is the huge difference in specifications and functionality between the available devices. Some models can replace the smartphone entirely, others can only act as an accessories.
“Even though smart watches play a ‘supporting role’ to smartphones, designing the smart watch only to act as a secondary device will consign it to failure,” – Angela McIntyre, research director at Gartner.
There does exist some demand for the form factor in spite of the dark forecasts. Samsung reports the shipment of 800,000 Galaxy Gear devices and in 2012 69,000 early raised a fund of $9 million on Kickstarter for Pebble.
The arrival of Apple’s iWatch may drive demand as indicated by its hiring of Burberry CEO Angela Ahrendts who brings fashion industry knowledge with her. Analysts suggest Apple could rake in revenues of £1.6 billion with sales of 5-10million iWatches within the first year that the smartwatch is made available.