2Full Smartphone Integration
3Style Is Everything
Although smartwatches are being graded on their software and hardware integration, for the average consumer, their value is derived from their style. Sure, they can be functional, but don’t think for a minute that men or women wouldn’t want a sexy device to display on their wrist. Style is everything in the smartwatch space.
4The Right Company Must Be Behind It
Not all companies can expect to achieve greatness in the smartwatch space. As the smartphone and tablet markets have shown, the devices that succeed are those that come from companies that are respected by consumers. That’s why Apple and Samsung have a shot at achieving success in smartwatches and why a no-name alternative probably doesn’t.
5A Reasonable Price, Please
That the Galaxy Gear costs $299 is an absolute issue in the mobile space. Samsung, along with the company’s competitors, needs to find a way to get smartwatch pricing down. The device on a person’s wrist cannot—and should not—cost as much as the smartphone in his or her pocket. Affordability is everything.
6Dedicated Third-Party Apps
If smartwatches are going to succeed, the devices need to have apps from third parties that can extend their usability. Sure, device makers are going to offer apps with their software, but will third-party developers see value in doing the same? If so, the respective smartwatch will succeed. If not, it’ll have some trouble.
7Fully Intuitive Design
Reviewers are finding that the Samsung Galaxy Gear’s software is not as intuitive as they would like. That’s a big issue. Ease of use is extremely important. People should be able to tap a few buttons, swipe around the display and handle just about any task from their smartwatch. Anything less than that will turn customers away.
8They Must Deliver a Feature-Rich Experience—to a Point
There’s definitely something to be said for more features, but let’s not forget that a smartwatch is a device sitting on a person’s wrist that will have, at best, a 3-inch screen. What’s more, the device’s first function is to tell time. So, while companies might be tempted to dump every feature under the sun into their smartwatch, they might want to reconsider. Smartwatches will succeed when they’re not overrun with useless features that only make the device harder to use.
9Is There a Google Now Connection?
Google Now is the search giant’s plan to provide the most relevant data to users wherever they are, at any time. Although there’s no word on Google bringing its Now service to smartwatches, the concept behind it might fit in perfectly with a smartwatch. After all, a smartwatch travels with a person wherever they go and can be fully aware of location and what’s in the area. Wouldn’t it be great if the user could look down and see relevant information based on their location right on their wristwatch? Look for that to be the feature that puts one device over the top.
Although the Galaxy Gear is a Samsung-friendly product, that’s not enough. The real test in the marketplace will be the extent to which smartwatch makers are willing to let their devices work with multiple devices and operating systems. It might be against Apple’s religion, but if the company ends up launching the iWatch, it better make sure the device works with Android.
11A Business Model Based on Longevity
No one wants to buy a new watch every year. So it’d be in the best interests of both customers and hardware vendors if the smartwatches work reliably and look good for years. They should not be another throwaway electronic device. Granted, hardware vendors want to sell more products to increase revenue, but if the mobile space has taught us anything, it’s that the so-called “ecosystem”—a place where companies can marry hardware and software—is truly the future. That’s why the business model needs to be altered a bit in smartwatches. Device makers shouldn’t try to make money solely on hardware. The future is in making a profit on devices and then setting up an ongoing revenue stream through software. Apple did it with the iPod and the iPhone. Can the company repeat that with the iWatch?