2Smartwatch as Phablet Counterpart
3Race to the Starting Line
4Devices for the Sexes
On a woman’s wrist, the Gear can look and feel overly large, though smartwatches would seem an opportunity to offer women a more refined experience—the opposite of having to use two hands to navigate a smartphone with a 5-plus-inch display. While this image is lovely, it’s notable that we’re not seeing the bulkier camera side of the watch.
5Easy User Interface
6The Smartwatch Playing Field
“Qualcomm just introduced the Toq, and Sony is on the second version of its SmartWatch,” said Greengart. “What I’m looking to see Apple do is focus on a limited number of functions and solve very specific problems for consumers. That’s how they revolutionized MP3s with the iPod.” (Shown here, the not-yet-available Sony SmartWatch 2, or SW2.)
7Smartwatches Demand Priorities
8The Qualcomm Toq Smartwatch
Qualcomm introduced the Toq Sept. 4. It features Qualcomm’s low-power Mirasol display technology, can wirelessly charge when sitting in its case and can be paired with Bluetooth earbuds, which Qualcomm says offers a “‘Digital 6th Sense,’ telling you what you need to know … with just a glance at your wrist or a whisper in your ear.”
9A Difficult Form to Master
Qualcomm already has its processors in smartphones, and it’s using the Toq to encourage others to use its mobile displays as well. Strategy Analytics’ Hyers points out that smartwatches require as much charging as smartphones. The Toq’s energy-efficient Mirasol display and wireless charging make it “less fiddly” and “easier to live with.”
11Peripheral Pricing vs. Computer Pricing
The Toq won’t be ready until the end of this year, if not early 2014, and Kay says Qualcomm, which has put pricing around $350, will “pretty quickly want to cost optimize,” as $250 is about the limit that consumers are willing to pay for a peripheral. The Pebble smartwatch, seen here, is $150 and available in Android- and iOS-compatible versions.
Where Gear and other smartwatches will shine, says Hyers, is augmented reality. While Google Glass and smartphones support AR, they’re both “kind of clunky for everyday use.” Good smartwatch apps “will allow users to briefly lift their wrist, get the information they want and then quickly move on,” he said.
13More Than iPod Nano Watches
Apple hasn’t admitted it’s working on a smartwatch, though it recently hired away from Nike a key developer of the FuelBand. Speaking in regard to the Galaxy Gear, Gartner’s Milanesi commented, “I sure expect more from Apple.” Kay added, “You can bet Apple will make hay of this situation.”