One vision for the future of smartwatches would look very much like personal computers today. As the technology gets better (smaller) and Google courts the likes of Swatch and Timex, Apple will inevitably be reduced to a boutique player in the smartwatch space; Android Wear will run on everything else—just like Windows on desktop PCs.
Wareable’s James Stables sees an entirely different future for the connected computers on our wrists. Why? For the simple reason that wristwatches follow fashion much more than tech.
Stables explains that consumer technology follows a predictable pattern, with one dominant player and space for maybe two or three others. Currently for smartphones that would be Android or Apple (depending on who you ask), then BlackBerry and Windows Phone.
But the wristwatch market was never like this. Here’s a quote from Bill Geiser, who launched the first Sony Ericsson smartwatch in 2006:
“Watches are fragmented. Fossil is the leader of the fashion watch market but maybe they have 25% of the world market. That’s 75% left to play for. So there’s lots of room. And it’s because brands appeal to people in a unique way. I think 10 years from now most of these watch companies will be selling some product that has some smart functionality.”
For the nascent product category of smartwatches, brand appeal isn’t limited to one company or even one platform. Want something cheap and cheerful? Get a Pebble. Want a status symbol? Get an Apple Watch. Want something future-proof? Get Android Wear. Where some see “fragmentation” others see diversity. It might just be that we’re in a golden age of smartwatches, where there’s not yet a prevailing design or platform to rule them all.
Let’s hope it lasts!