Wearable Computers Struggle to Go Mainstream: 10 Reasons Why

NEWS ANALYSIS: Google, Apple and other companies are betting wearable technology is the next big trend in mobile computing. But why is it taking so long to enter the mainstream?

With Apple reportedly thinking about delivering a smart watch known as iWatch to the marketplace and Google already showing off its eyewear, Glass, the steady drumbeat of excitement surrounding wearable technology has grown louder.

Now more than ever, people are talking about wearable computer technology and how it might impact their lives, and companies operating in the space are starting to believe that their niche market might actually grow into something quite large.

But the fact that it takes Apple and Google to take an interest in making wearable computers says something about that market. The wearable technology market is small and relatively inconsequential when it’s compared to the rest of the immense mobile market that Apple competes in, including smartphones and tablets.

Despite the best efforts by companies large and small that are developing products in the market, a number of reasons have so far prevented them breaking out into the mainstream.

These are the factors that are holding back wearable technology.

1. Where are all the big companies?

The big issue with wearable technology is that, for the most part, major companies aren’t spending a significant amount of their time competing in the marketplace. Apple and Google are getting so much attention because of all the talk about the products they are developing. But before that happened, no one cared.

2. The ideas aren’t there yet

Looking around the wearable technology industry, it’s hard to find too many fully realized ideas that can appeal to the average person. Sure, there are watches and eyeglasses and jackets, but they’ve yet to demonstrate that they are compellingly useful. Until they do, the market won’t take off.

3. Mainstream devices are becoming more useful

The idea behind wearable technology is to make a person more productive and keep them connected to information. But there’s a problem. Mainstream products, like smartphones and tablets, are doing an awfully good job of that right now. Many customers wonder why they should wear a watch that displays their last email when they can simply pull their smartphone out of their pocket and do the same thing. So far, the wearable technology market hasn’t solved that problem.

4. Design leaves much to be desired

There’s yet to be one really good-looking wearable technology product that would make customers buy it and use it. The world is increasingly concerned with fashion and personal appearance. Right now, a bulky watch on a wrist or odd-looking glasses on the face aren’t exactly elegant fashion statements.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...