May they wrist in peace
I ’m curious about the smart watch scene. When Apple announced the Apple Watch there was much ohhh and ahhing from the faithful, and the wannabe Dick Tracy crowd (of which I count myself), but how many of you actually bought one – and more to the point – how many of you still have them on your wrists?
Not many, according to the sales numbers. Smart watch sales declined 51% last year (according to IDC), but ‘bounced back’ in the most recent figures by 16% (IDC, to March 2017). However, that positive gain was fuelled almost entirely by a huge surge from Chinese company Xiaomi, which recorded a sales increase of over 90% in the period, which of course helped inflate the numbers – albeit to a barely-there 16% overall improvement. In terms of local relevance Xiaomi wearables aren’t sold here. So there’s that to add another couple of question marks to the pondering of just who is still using these.
In my not-very-scientific studies of people’s wrists over the years, it certainly seems that there are fewer smart watches being used. But what I see is telling. Mostly when I see a smart watch, it’s wrapped around the wrist of a high ranking executive. Other, lesser people wrists, tend to sport fitness trackers. So what to make of that? I think the obvious take away is that the killer app for smart watches is health and fitness – why spend $400 or $500 on a smart watch for just those functions when a far cheaper fitness band will do? Especially if it’s waterproof (I’m being polite, I mean ‘sweat’), and doubly so if it doesn’t need its battery charged each and every day.
As for why smart watches seem to be favoured by the ruling class, I once thought it was just a bit of status-driven accessorising. Smart watches as the new Rolex, so to speak. I enquire, when the opportunity arises, usually over a nice lunch they’re paying for while I’m being treated to an overview of their company’s latest something, just what appeals about their particular choice in electronic wrist adornment? Once again, the answer is telling. It’s so they get alerts when an important email has just arrived. They run email filters that prioritise certain senders, so it’s not like their wrist tingles every couple of minutes when something unimportant arrives – they’ve set it up so when something actually important comes in they know about it straight away, and, tapping into one of the key original selling points of wearables – are able to at-a-glance determine if it needs immediate dealing with, discretely, and without disrespectfully pulling out a smartphone in the middle of a nice conversation at lunch.
It’s a happy blend of etiquette adherence and prioritised information management. And of course, seeing a new tech find a perfect niche.