Are Consumers Clamoring for Smart Watches?

Anyone with an interest in computer technology targeted to consumers, who has some free time (plan on approximately 2.5 hrs), should review the Keynote, Google I/O 2014. The Keynote includes some important metrics on how global adoption of the Android O/S for mobile devices has been growing.

The keynote also includes a matter-of-fact presentation of the Android Smart Watch project, in sharp contrast to the mystery surrounding Apple’s own efforts on a similar product, and, finally, the patents Microsoft holds for this type of device.

All three of the featured presenters in the opening 50 minutes of the Keynote:

  • Sundar Pichai, Senior Vice President Android, Chrome & Apps
  • Dave Burke, Director of Engineering, Android, and
  • Avni Shah, Director of Product Management, Chrome

can be clearly seen with rather bulky devices strapped to their wrists: square boxes for Burke and Shah, and a circular disk for Pichai.

The Android smart watch effort is a component of the Wearables project. David Singleton, Director of Engineering presented on this topic in the Keynote. With the very first sentence of Singleton’s remarks: “We’re right at the beginning in a new phase of the miniaturization of technology, which means that it’s finally possible to make a powerful computer small enough to wear comfortably on your body all day long”, this writer’s skepticism was stimulated. Just who wants to wear a powerful computer on his or her body all day long? Anybody out there? Or will these devices end up consumed by the same “super geek” segment of “bleeding edge” stuff who are buying and wearing Google Glass?

Unfortunately, this writer thinks the latter will be the case. What should be of even greater concern to anyone viewing the Keynote should be an inaccuracy in Singleton’s comment. Pacemakers, digestible sensing systems for colonoscopy, etc, are all powerful computing systems (many of which are smaller than the device presented at this event). Some of these devices (pacemakers, etc) are used by their human hosts 7×24. But Singleton doesn’t mention any of these. Why?

The obvious reason ought to be these other powerful computing devices aren’t programmed to present ads online. Nor are they designed to deliver email notifications, texts, etc.

Android is betting tech consumers need to acquire more powerful methods of maintaining an “always on” condition, meaning a 7×24 hr collection system for potentially high stress activities like reading email, texts, etc.

Looming behind all of this conjecture is a notion strikingly similar to one expressed, recently, by Jeff Bezos of Amazon on the topic of another solution without a problem – the Fire Phone. Bezos extolled the good fortune implicit to Amazon’s current freedom to design whatever may come to mind, just as long as it’s unique, regardless of consumer sentiment.

This writer fears the market prospects for devices conceptualized within an implementation of this notion are pretty poor. Time will tell, will it not?

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved

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