In the age of the smartphone, developers raced to construct the sleekest, thinnest and lightest possible versions of their products. Apple’s iPhone, with its mix of excellent technology and minimalist aesthetics, quickly dominated the market. After all, no one can deny that the iPhone is more attractive than most (if not all) competitor products. But with a relatively saturated market and development opportunities dwindling, the tech world has turned its attention to a new category: wearables.
From smartwatches to Google’s highly anticipated Glass, these technologies vary widely in terms of function and style. Some wearables document or monitor activities and some interact with other electronic devices, while others capture or share information wirelessly. A relatively new category, wearables already come in a range of forms – glasses, contacts, jewelry, ski goggles, bands, watches… you name it.
Of all the wearable categories, companies are hopeful that the smartwatch will emerge as the “next big thing.” However, current adoption in the market is slow – 63% of Americans say they’re unlikely to purchase a smartwatch while only 50% have even heard of the product. Reviewers credit the lack of success partially to high prices, but mostly to design, presenting the tech industry with an additional challenge: how to combine fashion and technology.
Brands such as Sony and Samsung have put their own versions on the market, but a clear industry winner has yet to emerge. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear offers multiple color options and over 45 apps, but the design falls flat with consumers. Its design has been described as too industrial due poor placement of screws on the watch’s face and an unsatisfactory camera function. Sony’s smartwatch, with multiple apps and notifications to help the wearer stay connected with social media or email, is too practical looking, making it an inappropriate accessory for formal or professional settings.
A slew of other companies are starting to dabble in smartwatches, too. Kickstarter-funded Pebble, the Palo Alto-based startup, has been lauded for the development of its aesthetically pleasing watch. And rumors have been circulating that Apple wants in, and that the company has enlisted a team of high-fashion professionals to head up a watch development division.
It’s becoming increasingly clear that in order to raise interest and consideration among the untapped market, companies will need to focus future smartwatch models on fashion and style. While many companies have the technological ability to develop smartwatches, it remains unclear what brand will emerge as the iPhone of the smartwatch world. We, for one, can’t wait to see who does.
Written By Charlotte Snow