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Apple Watch Series 2 offers glimpse of smartwatch future

Matt Hamblen | Sept. 13, 2016
Focuses on fitness, but there’s a long way to go to major smartwatch growth.

“Large watches are in fashion, but by producing that, you are still ruling out a lot of people,” Ubrani said.

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“Because a watch is so much like jewelry, there need to be many more styles and many more brands that offer them,” added Moorhead. “ I fully expect all of the major traditional watch brands to bring out smartwatches in the next five years.”

Long-term implications

Nobody is talking lately about what a smartwatch will be in 20 years or whether it will be, say, a Dick Tracy two-way live video communications device. The realities of early problems with smartwatches seem to have tamped down the most lofty expectations of three years ago.

There seems also to be a recognition that despite the complexities of technology inside tiny smartwatch components (such as how the speaker mechanism pumps out water in the Series 2), they comprise a tiny market compared to the current rate of 1 billion smartphones sold in a year.

“We are looking at a multi-year journey,” Moorhead said. “Before smartwatches become a mass market device, a few things need to come into place: the experience needs to be fast and seamless without the requirement for a smartphone with a price around $200.” He estimated it will take five years for smartwatches to become mainstream.

“No doubt, wearables will play a much bigger role in coming years, but which form will be the winning one remains to be seen,” Milanesi added. “Most companies have looked at wearables as another revenue opportunity as sales of smartphones decrease. Apple, however, is playing a much longer game where the smartwatch starts with the familiar to build a dependency and trust, then builds on other things like health, connected home, Siri and more.”

The idea is that the smartwatch might eventually become a Swiss Army knife, with various applications turned on with connectivity in the cloud or the smartphone.

“What we term smartwatches today will morph in 20 years into specialty devices,” Gold predicted. “Some will be activity monitors like the new thrust of Apple Watch Series 2; some will be health monitors; some will be for gaming. Who knows where it will lead?

"I look at this like early phone units that were about phone calls, then we got email and networks improved," he said. "Then there was music, then web, gaming, GPS, health fitness and more. Instead of looking at the smartwatch as a peripheral device, it will be configurable to what we need it to do. And it will have connectivity to whatever services it needs, which could either be in the smartphone or the cloud.”

 

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