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What wearables need is a unifying purpose

The hype about wearables is pretty relentless.

At the latest CES, smart watches (I know wearable watches, what will they think of next) were everywhere with CNET calling it a “swarm of smartwatches”.

I’ve been lukewarm on smartwatches and wearables because nothing I’ve seen justifies the buzz. There hasn’t been an iPhone/Tesla/iPad moment when I’ve thought, Wow, I need that.

The reason is that the manufacturers don’t seem to be clear about the problem they are solving. Wearables and smartwatches need a purpose.

Sure there are fitness and health apps, the Samsung Gear smartwatch that could be a genuine phone replacement, but, well there is not much else unless you want a pair of glasses that can help correct your posture.

When Apple launched the iPhone and combined a phone, with a PDA, and an MP3 player  the universe changed. The current batch of smartwatches and wearables don’t have the same unifying, inspiring purpose.

The only problem being solved is the one where I think, I wish I could combine my fitbit, smartphone, and watch. What the manufacturers have forgotten is that a watch is also an item of jewellery, a beautiful piece of art that can subtly announce that I am someone of taste, style, and means.

Apple may have solved this problem with the 18 caret gold Apple watch. The sketch and tap apps are also interesting because they create a new language for connecting through the watch. It will be like a mysterious smartwatch club with secret taps and knocks. This fits right in line with the personal messaging trend exemplified by Secret, WhatsApp, Wickr, and Snapchat.

The Swarovski Shine fitness tracker is pretty interesting because it addresses the fashion factor with a shiny crystal orb type device that looks like something out of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The wearables trend is an interesting product management problem and will be fascinating to watch (pun intended).

 

Image: The watch was designed for Stanley Kubrick by the US watch maker Hamilton for 2001: A Space Odyssey. I want one. (more info)

 

What do you think?