How Popular Will Smartwatches Be?

A while ago, I tweeted why I felt the tech pundits that suggest that you don’t need a smartwatch when you’ve already got a smartphone, are totally wrong.

Naofumi Kagami 加々美直史さんはTwitterを使っています eric analytics BenBajarin One difficulty in analysis is tech community biased towards people who can pull out phones during work

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The point is that whereas many people who write or comment about tech have a job where it is acceptable to pull out their smartwatches quite frequently, a large proportion of the population spend their work time directly in front of customers and are therefore unable to do so.

For example, think about waiters and waitresses at a restaurant. How would you feel if they were staring at their phones and if they didn’t notice that you were trying to get their attention? Or how would you feel if you were riding on the subway and the driver, who is responsible for your safety, was peeking in his smartphone?

There are plenty of jobs where glancing at a watch is acceptable, but staring into your smartphone isn’t.

You could easily add other jobs where a smartwatch will quickly become a necessity and not just a convenience. For example, doctors working inside hospitals have to respond quickly if one of their patient’s condition suddenly deteriorates. They carry phones with them at all times, but it’s vital that they don’t miss a call. Rather then having a vibration in your pants which can sometimes be hard to notice, it’s much better to have a tap on your wrist.

Similarly, sales reps will also do much better if they quickly respond to emails or phone calls from customers, and so missing calls is not an option. For this very reason, many Japanese employees keep their phones in their shirt pocket and not in their trousers, because it’s much easier to notice a vibration on your chest. This will no longer be an issue if you are wearing a smartwatch.

Also lacking from the discussion is women who often carry their smartphones in their bags and not in their pockets. They don’t want to miss calls or important notifications either.

The list goes on and on. In fact, you get to the point where you really start to wonder why smartwatches didn’t take off earlier, before Apple announced that it was entering the market.

The way I see it, there has always been a very strong need for glanceable notification devices that could be worn, especially for professionals, despite the lack of interest from the tech community. The true mystery is why none of the non-Apple products could deliver on that need. Somewhere, there was a block. Maybe it was the inability to quickly respond to that notification without pulling out your smartphone. Maybe it was because such devices didn’t match a suit from a design standpoint.

Whatever the reason, it seems likely that the Apple Watch has overcome the block and now we will see a flood of people recognising the benefits of notifications coming to your wrist. This is why I am optimistic about Apple Watch sales, and sales of smartwatch sales in general. I would be very surprised if Android Wear did not start to sell briskly, although it may take a product iteration or two.