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Does anyone actually care about smartwatches?

Published Apr 1st, 2014 6:03PM EDT
New Smart Watches 2014

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Tech companies are always looking to create the “next big thing” that will completely upend the industry as we know it and make them insanely profitable as early adopters rush to snap up their new, exciting and never-before-seen products. This soft of disruption happened with smartphones just after Apple launched the iPhone back in 2007 and to a lesser extent with tablets when the iPad came out three years later. However, there are also times when the tech industry can significantly overestimate how much consumers are actually interested in their innovative new products — as anyone who remembers the 3D TV craze that never materialized can tell you, being innovative doesn’t being successful.

All of this brings us to smartwatches. The Guardian’s Charles Arthur points us to a recent study conducted by Endeavour Partners showing that roughly one-third of early smartwatch adopters stopped using their devices after just six months. What has to make this particularly discouraging, Arthur says, is that early adopters tend to be the most enthusiastic users of new technologies — in other words, if so many of them are giving up on smartwatches so soon, what does that portend for what the average consumer will do?

“For comparison, you wouldn’t find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they’d abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone,” he writes. “They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn’t occur to them.”

Now, it could just be that early smartwatches are simply uninspiring and we could see a surge in smartwatch sales with the Gear 2, the Motorola Moto 360 and Apple’s long-fabled iWatch on the market this year. But if the lack of consistent use from early adopters is an indication of things to come then smartwatches may be one day be added to the list of tech crazes that never materialized.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.