back to article Time has already run out for smart watches

It's been a big year for smart watches. First, rumours that Apple glanced at its wrist and imagined what an iWatch might look like hit the web. This week at CES Toshiba showed off a smart watch, as did a clutch of aspiring watchmakers like Cookoo, Martian and I'm Watch. Then the long-awaited Pebble watch with ePaper for a face …


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  1. VaalDonkie

    I already own a great watch

    ...It;s called a Nokia Lumia 900.

    1. Mark Allread

      Re: I already own a great watch

      Pretty sure that's a phone mate.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I already own a great watch

        "Pretty sure that's a phone mate"

        Nope, he was right first time.

      2. Wize

        Re: I already own a great watch

        A few elastic bands and it will fit the wrist.

    2. miknik

      Funny how these things go full circle

      The wrist watch became popular because it was seen as more convenient to have your watch on your wrist, rather than carrying a pocket watch.

      Nowadays many people don't bother with a watch. Instead they rely on their phone, which they keep in their pocket....

      1. Don Jefe

        Re: Funny how these things go full circle

        The wrist watch became popular during WWI where they were often issued because fiddling with your pocket watch increased the chances of accidentally poking your head up and getting a bullet in your face.

        Prior to the war wristwatches were almost exclusively a women's fashion accessory & were extremely popular.

        The wristwatch is another example of innovation through war.

        1. garbo

          Re: Funny how these things go full circle

          Hang on...looking DOWN to find a pocket watch and looking DOWN to read it makes one's head go UP and get shot in the face?

      2. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Funny how these things go full circle

        Is it living this long or remembering THAT far back.....

        Fuck.... I should just shut up and do house work....

        But I remember going to school one day, once upon a time, far far away in another galaxy....

        And another kid had a CALCULATOR digital watch....

        Yes... a kind of basic calculator, in a watch case, on a wrist, that one pressed the keys of it, with the tip of a pen.

        And in the 30 odd years since.....

        I think I have met about 3 other people in my entire life, who have ever worn them.....

        Something about TINY, Fiddly, Many Features in a Minescule Package....

        I just think that some times, it is really necessary to divest ones self of a significant degree of onboard tech...

        This is bullshit.......

        “Functionality-aside, a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication,” said Tham May Ling, head of personal accessories at analyst outfit Euromonitor International.

        Prestige is a way to publicly masturbate ones insecurities, while being ripped off big time in the process, for mostly worthless crap.

        Beyond the 5 fundamentals, such as food, water, warmth, shelter, and kinship, everything else is just "stuff" - and beyond the 5 fundamentals, you really don't need much to be happy - only the advertisers manipulate you to the Nth degree, to convince you otherwise - so you can get sucked in to spend more than ever.

        I despise the smart watch fads, and only wear a Seiko Divers watch, electric ones go "spastic" on me with their time keeping, and this is a mechanical self winder. It's hermetically sealed, and the seals only ought to be replaced every 3 years, but that is only if you never wear it in any environment that rots seals, and or repeatedly open the hand and date adjustment, so the seals get exposed.

        If I accidentally let mine run down from not being worn for a few days, I set an timer that goes off 5 minutes before the right time, and then pick the watch up, give it a good shake to wind it up and then back into business for another few months.

        It keeps good time. ONE watch will last me my whole life. It has big glow in the dark hands, and it easy to read. It is really tough and durable.

        As far as all the fashion trend setter bullshit goes......

        This is about 20 years ago... or something like that - and this is what a conjob the fashion industry is.

        The TAG - Heuer watches, left the factory for about $150 each. The importer into Australia, marked them up and sold them to the retailer for about $1000 each. The retailer sold them to the consumer for about $3000 each.

        Despite the "luxury item" (conjob) status the watches had, they only had 12 months warranty on them, just like the shit box $5 watches from the flea markets.

        "a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication" - and a grossly overpriced time keeper, for the most part, simply shows how stupid you are.

        "Oh look at me, I have a $500,000 Italian Sports car that can do 300Kmh.... in a country with a speed limit of 100Kmh...... And look at me, I have a shit box Datsun that did cost me $500 and easily keeps within the speed limit.....

        Luxury = $495,000 worth of stupid.

        Smiley - the cosmic joke is that self is the wealth.

        1. John Angelico
          Thumb Up

          Re: Funny how these things go full circle

          Hmm, don't know what happened to my marking you Plus...

          I agree entirely.

          I have a basic but excellent quality Omega, bought for me 40+ years ago by my Dad (duty free on a trip). Manual winding, manual date adjustment for short months. Clear view, keeps excellent time. I get it serviced maybe every couple of years.

          Functional, basic practical - gee maybe this business of watches being an extension of your personality has something to it!

      3. justsayyes

        Re: Funny how these things go full circle

        Here in the US (Silicon Valley area), I see maybe 1 in 50 high school kids wearing a watch and maybe 1 in 20 college students.. Now if the next generation isn't wearing watches and instead using their smart phones to tell time, what are the chances that they'll adopt ugly, wristwatches to do 1/1000 of what their phone already does? And for way more the cost (considering rebates, etc.)? Dumb idea and a good example of technology just because you can. BTW, I'll take an Omega Seamaster 007 Edition over a drawer-full of these things any day.

  2. xyz Silver badge

    I'm still waiting for someone to develop a portable know all the gubbins of a smart phone without the interface bits, then I can bluetooth my earpiece, screen only tablet and wrist number pad (worn on the inside of the wrist so it looks cool) to it. Then my hub can sit in a pocket out of sight. That way I can swap out my interface bits easily as fashions change. Just sayin'....

    1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      @xyz - Good idea in theory

      In practice - not so much. You need a battery per device and they will all run out at different times making it royal PITA to use.

      The watch had a golden opportunity - the time when sub-3 inc size was the norm so people looked at a 4-5 inch screen in the phone spec and asked "Are you out of your mind".

      That time has passed. My technophobic SWMBO used to show a set of venomous fangs at the mere mentioning of something bigger than a mid 2000-es slider/clamshell. She laughed at me when I got my Arc S a year ago. She is now happily carrying an Xperia J which is the same size as an Arc and she is not alone in that. People are holding 5 inch blowers and happily using them as phones (or to be more exact "as we use phones today"). This pretty much kills the rationale of a second display outright for most users.

      1. James Micallef Silver badge
        Thumb Up

        Re: @xyz - Good idea in theory

        Last week El Reg highlighted a flexible panel that could act as a tablet touch-screen, I think that would be ace for this application. Rather than a 'watch' form factor (too tiny to do anything useful on), think of a large bracelet (sort of Predator's control panel bracelet). Battery and non-flexible gubbins can be fitted around the bottom part of the wrist, while the top part could easily accommodate a 4" screen. It wouldn't be suitable for a lot of things of course (anything that requires sustained staring at the screen), but as a combination of watch + media device + control panel (+phone with an added headset) it could work great. Plus maybe you can slip it off and fletten it out to do any more serious reading or other concentrated usage.

    2. Alan Brown Silver badge

      I'm halfway there

      Bluboard, earpiece, write remote display.

      The phone only comes out of pocket to play Angry Birds :)

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It won't fly in the mainstream if you're thinking about it like a tablet...the interface is too small. Pair it up with something like a miniaturised LEAP controller and a HUD display and they might get popular; when technology allows.

    Of course, you're stuck with the bluetooth headset and apparently bellowing into thin air; which is always going to be off-putting.

  4. LinkOfHyrule
    Paris Hilton

    "watchmakers like Cockoo, Martian and I'm Watch"

    "I'm Watch, and me tell you the time!"

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Mens watches are jewelery

    A proper watch is a symbol of power, affluence and refiinement.. A functional article worn to be seen confiring dignity and respect upon its owner..

    Something you're not likely to find at the CES. Not bling, instead Art.

    1. Ian Yates

      Re: Mens watches are jewelery

      Agreed. Potentially, once epaper (or similar non-backlit display) has a high enough resolution, colour range, and refresh rate, it could have the appearance of a normal (albeit completely flat) watch, but respond to gestures to occasionally perform smart functions...

      1. petur

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery

        sorry, my current casio is also monochrome...

        but is also charges from solar, syncs time with DCF-77,... If these smart watches start managing these simple things a normal watch does, I'll look again.

        Mine is the one with the nokia n900 (maemo) smartphone in the left pocket (holding out 2 days in use or 3+ days on very light use, 7+ days in standby (no internet))

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mens watches are jewelery

      In Hong Kong in 1993 people were using mobile phones that were bricks compared to the then current technology. There was also a booming market in fake Rolex watches.

      There was a cultural thing about displaying what you apparently could afford. It probably hasn't changed all that much in many parts of the world since then.

    3. MrXavia
      Thumb Up

      Re: Mens watches are jewelery

      Totally agree,

      my wife brought me a nice watch last christmas, cost more than my phone and was brought from a jewellery store... Its a beautiful watch, and practical..

      I expect this watch to last me 20+ years, I expect my phone to last me 2-3 years....

      1. Mark Allread

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery

        Downvoted for saying "brought from".

    4. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

      "A proper watch is a symbol of ..."

      ..vanity, bad taste, affectation, and excessive disposable income. Or so I've come to learn from the adverts in publications like the FT's revolting "How to spend it" magazine.

      Look at all those w@nky watches sold for the price of a small car, promoted through adverts featuring handsome smiling pilots, or jet fighters doing aerobatics. Or "diving" watches sold to people who wouldn't even know which way to unscrew a SCUBA valve. Total s***, as are most of the people wearing 'em.

      Fair enough to those people with proper, real mechanical watches from a company with pedigree that don't have all that bling. I'd quite like a Piaget myself, but as a pauper I have to settle for a Seiko 5 (at least it ticks and doesn't have a battery).

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

        >..vanity, bad taste, affectation, and excessive disposable income. Or so I've come to learn from the adverts in publications like the FT's revolting "How to spend it"

        I read once that most of the CEOs of the top 100 companies wore Timex watches... a sign that they were about making money, not spending it.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

          "I read once that most of the CEOs of the top 100 companies wore Timex watches... a sign that they were about making money, not spending it."

          A nice tale, but not true of the small number with whom I've worked (about eight past and present FTSE 100 chairmen and CEOs, and two or thee FD's). Certainly they weren't into vanity watches, but they did tend to have reasonably respectable timepieces - typically a basic Rolex. That's still a bit garish for my tastes, but not as bad as anything by Reitbling with a million subsidiary dials, or anything by the new kids on the watch block.

      2. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery@<jbc>

        Why settle for a Seiko 5, why not go totally retro, my fully jewelled movement Seiko dating from the late 1970's is still going fine!

    5. Lamont Cranston

      Re: Mens watches are jewelery

      No they're not, they're a device for telling the time (and gradually falling out of favour, to be replaced by the ubiquitous mobile phone).

      Would anyone who agrees with the statement that the watch "epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication" kindly step into the nearest meat grinder? Anyone who views their phone/car/TV/house/wife the same way, can form an orderly queue behind them.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery

        "Would anyone who agrees with the statement that the watch "epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication" kindly step into the nearest meat grinder? "

        Quality, sir, quality!

      2. Alfred

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery

        Deny it all you like, but the studies have been done and the results are in. An extraordinarily expensive wristwatch is a common way that men who are happy (and capable of) spending 20000 pounds on a wristwatch signal this fact to distinguish themselves from men who are not.

        It gets the response you'd expect; most men who notice (and don't have such a watch themselves) assert that's it's just a stupid waste of money, most women who notice agree that it's a stupid waste of money BUT, of course, the intent has been signaled and the man is significantly more attractive now that it's clear he has that kind of money to throw around. Communication of status has always been the purpose of jewellery.

        1. Andrew Jones 2

          Re: Mens watches are jewelery

          Although in my experience the reality is more along the lines of -

          People who can afford to spend thousands of pounds on a wrist watch generally have the personality of a plank of wood, are arrogant wankers and completely obsessed with finding a way to make a profit out of every situation they are involved in. Someone spending thousands of pounds on a watch is very similar to someone buying a sports car - it says more about what they haven't got than what they have......

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Mens watches are jewelery

            The best MD I ever worked with once said he would like to have enough money to walk into a Bentley showroom and buy anything on offer for cash. And then keep the money for something useful.

        2. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Mens watches are jewelery

          "BUT, of course, the intent has been signaled and the man is significantly more attractive now that it's clear he has that kind of money to throw around"


          "MONEY - Viagra for women."

        3. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mens watches are jewelery

          Would those be the studies funded by the makers of 'jewellery watches' by any chance?

          "communication of status has always been the purpose of jewellery" - which is why chavs wear chains around their necks and thugs sovereign rings on their finger, and wearing only one earring means you're a homosexual?

          Studies show that the 'status' you're trying to communicate doesn't always work in the way intend and is rarely universal.

      3. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: Mens watches are jewelery

        If you've ever looked at a Tourbillon, you'd agree it's jewellery in its intricate complexity.

        Not the tacky stuff like fancy straps and blingy dials.

        A Tourbillon is about poetry in motion - and even the cheap chinese ones start at about £1200 quid.

        No, they're not more accurate than a quartz watch (but they can get close). That isn't the point of one.

        It's more like the point of loving a steam locomotive.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Mens watches are jewelery

          How sexy are train spotters?

    6. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Mens watches are jewelery

      and yet wearing jewellery is both effeminate and a sign of trying to hard too impress. So not something that real men wear, more like the kind of thing that 'media' sorts and other undesirables wear.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    not done right

    Saying that smart watches don't convey sophistication is only because they have not been done right yet. I am sure Apple or perhaps a decent digital watch brand like Suunto could make it look classy.

    The problem with smart watches at present is that they're just miniaturizing smart phones. For a watch, you need an interface specifically designed to work on a very small form factor. You need battery life of weeks or months, or kinetic/solar charging, because you want to be able to wear a constantly without thinking about charging. It needs to be waterproof. And you need it miniaturized to the point where it can be worn on a daily basis without sticking out like a sore thumb. Nobody is going to want to have both a phone AND a watch they need to charge nightly. So if it really does need daily charging, it has to replace a smartphone, not just augment it.

    I think we're probably still a few years away from having the technology to do it well, which is probably why Apple is avoiding it at present. Like most tech, they'll sit on the sidelines, watch others experiment, and then come in with something just at the right time when the technology is up to scratch and the market is there for the taking.

    1. Shagbag

      Re: not done right

      "I am sure Apple or perhaps a decent digital watch brand like Suunto could make it look classy."


      A watch is a consumer item. Consumers frequently buy on the basis of the "image" the item is perceived to impart to them. I could name one company that understands this and has been exploiting it ever since.

      Examples of 'style over content' consumption include the original iPod - a large, clunky, ugly looking device that Apple sold on image. Beats Audio - oversized headphones with bog-standard technology that Monster have sold on image. The list goes on...

      Everyone remembers Dick Tracey's wristwatch for a reason - it was a cool/must-have device. I think these nay-sayers are wrong, just like those that said the iPad was just another tablet and would never take off.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: not done right

        An smartwatch that looks like a normal watch... I'm thinking of that Tissot watch that just analogue hands. However, if you pushed 3 o'clock, the hands rotated to indicate altitude, press 6 o'clock and it became a compass.

        I think that the functionality I would want from a smart watch would stretch to no more that it acting as a remote control for a phone or media payer, and to alert me to incoming texts or calls. Neither should require too much power, or too ugly a design.

        Whilst this analyst says smartwatches won't work, I think a watch-sized smart-dongle would.... I'm thinking of those women who have to reach into the bottom of massive handbags to get their phone; a dongle would clip to the strap. If more phones are docked to provide music or video, the dongle would provide the remote-control convenience we are used to.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: not done right

        >Examples of 'style over content' consumption include the original iPod - a large, clunky, ugly looking device that Apple sold on image.

        Large, clunky and ugly? You're thinking of the Creative Nomad that was modelled on portable CD player. The iPod was about the same size or smaller than the products it replaced- cassette Walkmans, portable CD players, and on a par with many MD payers (though of course you carried extra MDs with you). Its size was largely dictated by the little Toshiba HDD inside it, though IBM had been touting their matchbox-like Microdrive. Small, flash-based players like the Rio were around at the time, but in small capacities and hadn't yet become ubiquitous like the older removable-medium devices. Later competing products using the same HDD, such as the iRiver H320, Creative Zen or Sony were the same size as the iPod.

        Apple sold it on the basis that it was 5 GB (though they expressed it in terms of albums), fitted in your pocket and was easy to use.

        (I didn't have an iPod, I had the Zen which failed cos the headphone socket was soldered directly onto the main PCB, the little Archos Gmini XS that failed, and the iRiver H320 that failed after being dropped but was revived by transplanting a HDD out of a dead iPod, Rockboxed and later stolen)

        I agree with you on Beats Audio (and Monster's AV cables) though.

    2. Brangdon

      Re: not done right

      Charging should become less of an issue with decent wireless charging. Most people take their watch off when going to bed anyway, and whatever nightstand they dump it on should charge it, without them having to think about it or mess around with cables.

      That said, the longer life the better, of course.

  7. Andres

    As Cartman said

    Screw You! I have pre-ordered my Pebble which actually looks good as well as having some functionality.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As Cartman said

      Actually that does look like it'll be a nice every day watch, might have to grab one of those!

      I am not opposed to tech in watches, but it has better look good!

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As Cartman said

      Looks good - it's looks like crap - the sort of thing that came out of a cracker.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: As Cartman said

        You're one crazy white boy, I don't shit watches.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: As Cartman said

      Got to agree, I almost came after seeing one. Ordering one now.

  8. James Cooke

    Maybe they will be niche articles maybe not. The $10M+ that pebble have received in backing shows there is at least reasonable interest given that the device wasn't even out when they got that.

    I've got to say that the increase in phone sizes probably adds to the reason for wanting these. They start to not fit all that well into your jeans pockets without creating unsightly bulges so I stick my phone in a less convenient jacket pocket or bag. I've ordered a pebble so I can glance at my watch to see if its yet another junk email/ PPI claim text or if its something I might want to pay attention to. Not to mention being able to change the music volume/track without having to pull my phone out perhaps when I'm cycling.

    1. Dave Bell

      That's the area where a smartwatch might add something to the mix. But it still clashes with the jewelry factor. A watch doesn't quite have to be effective to sell but it had better look good.

      Back in the early days of the digital watch, it was the digital aspect that was cool. Then the overall look came to be more important. Now we have watches with bezels that look as though they should rotate, and don't.

      There's something tempting about the idea of a smartwatch which will actually do something useful, instead of just looking cool.

      1. James Cooke

        In that regard I have a nice watch that I use when I wear my smart stuff - purely mens jewellery in that regard since when I wear it I probably don't want to pull my phone out to tell the time.

        The pebble is my day-to-day watch, it looks good enough for that and will hopefully serve its purpose well.

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          >Now we have watches with bezels that look as though they should rotate, and don't.

          I love watches with rotating bezels... it is the quickest, most natural way of setting a reminder of when you must return to your car to avoid a parking fine.

  9. JimC

    Ye gods, if ever I saw a doomed industry comment...

    > Sophistication is something “clunky smartwatches simply do not convey,” she said, adding that aside

    > from Japan's Casio “there is hardly interest on part of watchmakers to dabble in this area.”

    Doesn't that read to you like the sort of thing that's come from thousands of executives in the past who seem to believe that their current business strategy will last for ever?

    Don't get me wrong, I doubt the time has come yet, but the time will certainly come where everyone has their personal communications on their wrist, not in their pocket. You only have to look at the history of, well, clocks and watches. When it can be done it will be done. Vastly reduced power consumption and some kind of radically easier power charging regime will be the key technologies...

  10. jai

    Watches are already on the decline

    seen as an extension of the user’s personality

    this is funny - the majority of the people i know stopped wearing watches over the past 10 years or so. these days, with a decent phone in your pocket, there's no need.

    In fact, the only reason i wear a watch now is because it's a 6gen iPod Nano and i listen to podcasts on it.

    Yes, the big expensive shiny shiny watches are seen more as jewellery and a reflection of the wearer, but I can see smart watches unlocking the market of people who stopped wearing watches because they've no need of a time telling device when their phone will do that, and instead people who want a lightweight, convenient interface to the phone in their pocket, of which time telling is just a minor, mostly unused function... in the same way that the phone function of a smart phone is likely it's least used feature.

    1. Dcope
      Thumb Up

      Re: Watches are already on the decline

      Exactly what i am waiting for, at the correct price and reliability, havent seen one that fits my bill yet but i am looking and WILL by one.

    2. Jonathon Green
      Thumb Down

      Re: Watches are already on the decline

      Jai: "this is funny - the majority of the people i know stopped wearing watches over the past 10 years or so. these days, with a decent phone in your pocket, there's no need."

      I see this line a lot but I can't help feeling that there's probably a reason why fob/pocket watches (lovely as they are, and I've got three...) were replaced by wristwatches for everyday purposes...

      Incidentally today I'm sporting a discrete, tasteful self-winding Omega which was built in 1967 - it cost me ~£40 from eBay as a non-runner, ~£60 for a clean and service by a local watchmaker (good quality mechanical watches are surprisingly difficult to kill), it's not ostentatious enough to make me look like I'm trying to make some kind of point with it, I'll never find myself sitting next to someone with an identical model, it gets nods of appreciation from watch geeks, and given modest care and a simple basic (clean and lubrication) service every few years it'll be running just as well and looking just as good long, long after I'm dead. Not sure you'll be saying the same about modern mass market electronic watches (smart or otherwise) - if nothing else replacement battery availability is likely to leave a lot of them as display only items...

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Watches are already on the decline

        >I see this line a lot but I can't help feeling that there's probably a reason why fob/pocket watches (lovely as they >are, and I've got three...) were replaced by wristwatches for everyday purposes...

        Well said. Yoinking a phone out of your pocket just to tell the time is awkward.

        My watch is 1969 Omega Chronostop, their attempt at a budget range at the time. My dad bought it off a bloke in a pub, so it's a family heirloom.

  11. tomban

    V.A.T.S. Optional

    I want my Pip-Boy 3000 now!

  12. Semaj

    Watches are a Status Symbol?

    No, for most people, a watch is a way to easily tell the time. They are a status symbol of you are a douche bag who is compensating for a certain something being below average in size (do you drive an Audi TT as well by any chance?). But in that case you won't buy one of these until everyone's got one anyway.

    No, this is a geek toy and will be for some time. So fix the battery issue then maybe it'll take off. It'd be kinda handy to be able to see text/IM/email and appointments without having to get the phone out.

    1. Mark Allread

      Re: Watches are a Status Symbol?

      Your post oozes jealousy. People who ascribe physical traits to others who drive nice cars obviously have some issues of their own.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Watches are a Status Symbol?

        No it's a well known fact that men who drive overly flashy or large cars usually have tiny genitalia*. Me, well I drive a Matiz... ;)

        (*Whether or not it's true this is genuinely what the rest of us think about you, as you parade around in your large penis-cars. In truth I drive a tiny car because I'm poor... it's purely coincidental that I have a huge willy)

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Watches are a Status Symbol?

          I drive a larg(ish) car because I drive on country lanes and have seen what "small car vs large tractor" looks like, as well as experiencing "small car vs deer jumping out of a hedge".

          My car would still lose, but I might be alive when they cut me out of it and these days the deer bounce off the sides, rather than squash the car (deer have got to be the second stupidest animals on rural roads, after pheasants. Why is running towards something dangerous a survival trait?)

          1. Steven Roper

            @ Alan Brown

            Here in Australia we don't have deer, at least not in the wild. What we have instead are kangaroos and wombats. Kangaroos are about the same mass as deer (at least the big grey plains ones are) but, unlike deer, they tend to stand upright, like people. Which means that when you hit them at speed, they are much more likely to bounce over the bonnet and smash through your windscreen than simply mangling your radiator and front end, with obviously deadly consequences.

            And wombats are just evil. About the size of a stocky fox terrier, they look deceptively small and vulnerable, but they have the structural solidity of a large house brick. If you hit one, it will rip out your sump, gearbox, tailshaft and/or diff, and walk away without a scratch, leaving you with a written-off car and a very long walk home!

  13. Mark Allread

    niche market?

    "He therefore predicts only niche sales for smart watches, comparing them to e-readers as a product category that might make sense to a small market for a short time"

    Is he on about the kindle style of e-reader market? Because that was hardly a small market! The reason it might have fizzled out a bit is because everyone's already got one!

    1. Svantevid

      Re: niche market?

      I'm planning on buying a Kindle Paperwhite although I already have an iPad.

      Maybe I'm a part of a not-so-average group of people, but to many of my friends/acquaintances e-readers make a lot of sense.

  14. Bodestone

    Pebble at last

    At long last I have a date for the start of shipping for my long awaited Pebble.

    It has been a fascinating journey following the design and manufacturing process through in the mean time however.

    I think they have it as right as can be for now. Rather than try and emulate phone functionality on a colour screen that lasts a day tops if used with the phone it is designed as a watch with interaction features. One that you can swim lengths with as well.

  15. Simon Round

    All the current smart watches I have seen tend to be clunky both in operation and design.

    Now they were able to manuafacture a round oled colour screen with a high enough resolution then the smart watch could be designed to look just like a traditional watch and the screen could emulate a watch face of any design when not being used for it's smart capabilities (e.g. reading sms, emails, calendar appointments, etc).

    Sort out the battery life and make a ring of solar cells around the bezel (blend it into the design) for charging on the go. Make it waterproof for use in all weathers or in sports such as swimming. Make it eather touch screen or have buttons that also blend into the desn.

    Do all this and maybe, just maybe, you would be onto a winner. For this to happen companies from both technology and watch design/manufacture would have to come togther.

    I see smart watches as being a logical step in technology to make both communication and data even more accessible in all situations.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Why bother emulating real hands? Plenty of existing watches place LCD elements over real, analogue hands. At CES this year was a company touting electronic windows blinds, so a switchable opaque layer can be used, too. The display does NOT need to be in colour.

      1. Simon Round
        Thumb Up

        Having an opaque lcd layer over a real watch could cause the watch to become more bulky. The watch would have to have the read watch gubbins and mechanisms along with the smart watch electronics and a suitable battery to power the whole thing for a resonable period of time.

        Simpler to just have a smart watch that can emulate a real watch therefore saving the space used by the real watch mechanisms allowing the design of the watch to be no bigger or bulkier than current watches but still have all the functionality of a smart watch.

  16. This post has been deleted by its author

  17. FartingHippo

    Some confusion here

    I think a lot of the comments here are confusing "geek cool" with "fashion cool". Yeah, there's some overlap, as we saw with the iPhone in it's earlier incarnations, but on the whole they are very different things.

    Now, personally, I would view a detailed 1:72 scale model of Serenity as pretty darn cool. However, 95% of the population would strongly disagree. It should come as no surprise that the 5% are disproportionately represented here.

  18. Lusty

    "Euromonitor's head of consumer electronics, Loo Wee Teck, feels the smart watch market just won't happen."

    It's not April already so is there really someone called low tech who doesn't see a future for these?

    1. Simon Round

      Or perhaps we can discount his comments because Loo Wee Teck is a toilet design technician :-)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Loo Wee is a pretty funny name... ;)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          You should meet his brother Loo Poo Teck - he was the second child

  19. Thyl Engelhardt

    Only Apple can decide if tehy want to deliver the required info

    Imho, the analysis is nonsense, though the conclusion appears correct. What people really want and need is a copy of their iPhone's "notification system" on a watch, that presents the information in an abridged, legible form. None of the watches presently offered or announced have this.

    Why? Because the notification information is simply not output by the iPhone. Only some info, like SMS and caller ID, are transmitted via Bluetooth, in order to interact with hands free systems.

    And the only company who could change that is Apple. Hence, it is Apple's responsibility to develop an appropriate watch or movement with the needed functions.

    Only by this approach, all new apps that deliver information via the notification system could automatically be integrated into the watch's functionality.

    By providing a movement instead of a complete watch, watchmakers would be enabled to integrate such movements into complete watches, from the cheap 300 Dollar Timex variant, to the 5000 Dollar Panerai variant; including individualized clock faces in the individual watchmakers' layouts.

    1. Bodestone

      Re: Only Apple can decide if tehy want to deliver the required info

      Well, with the Pebble there is an API. You can tell it to get anything that the phone side application has permission to access. It can tie in with applications and it is the watch's phone side software which does the transmission via bluetooth.

      Don't forget that these things aren't just for iPhones they are for smartphones in general. There is no way Apple can decide what information can be retrieved from and Android phone.

      If apple refuse to let applictions have access to the information that would make these watches useful it is their loss. I am assuming it is possible though.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "Functionality-aside, a watch also epitomizes prestige and is seen as an extension of the user’s personality and lifestyle/fashion sophistication"

    What that sort of watch is, is a way to tell that you're dealing with a dickhead.

    1. A n o n y m o u s

      Re: Actually...

      Think he's been reading (or worse) the Rolex catalogue a few too many times - 27 jewel movement, waterproof to 300m (despite the fact it's never likely to go more than 3m) and an expression of your individuality... ahhh that's better.

  21. ContentsMayVary

    No-one wants smart watches?

    The article wrote: "But that begs a question about just why anyone is targeting a market with products it seems no-one wants?"

    No-one wants? If that's the case, why did the Pebble Bluetooth Smart Watch kickstarter gain more than 70,000 pledges and more than $10,000,000 in funding?

    Personally, I'm not interested in them - but to say that no-one wants them is clearly untrue.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No-one wants smart watches?

      "No-one wants? If that's the case, why did the Pebble Bluetooth Smart Watch kickstarter gain more than 70,000 pledges and more than $10,000,000 in funding?"

      Errr, because the kickstarter types don't know anything? I'd like to see them prise ten million smackers out of a red blooded private equity investor for this tat.

      1. Dave Bell

        Re: No-one wants smart watches?

        One of the things which the development of capitalism did was make risk taking affordable. Those kickstarters are taking a risk they think they can afford, with the chance of getting a good return.

        Who can afford to lose ten million? That's averaging less than $150 per pledge, which is currently around £100, and that's a bet a lot of people can afford to lose.

        Kickstarter is doing what the stockmarkets originally did, and is maybe a bit too much like the days of the South Sea Bubble, but I've heard a good many claims that Wall Street and The City aren't willing to take risks, Kickstarter is at the other end of the scale, and the venture capitalists somewhere in the middle.

        It could turn into an element of a varied investment portfolio. Some money going into reliable investments some going into high-risk funds, some into Kickstarter. It might be more fun taking your own decisions too. Just don't risk what you can't afford to lose.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: No-one wants smart watches?

          "One of the things which the development of capitalism did was make risk taking affordable"

          As preceding AC, I take your point, and it is a very, very good one. No real, new companies can now afford to go to the stock markets to raise equity. It's only when you've either got plenty of money (or users, in the case of Farcebook) that you go to the capital markets, and that's why the stock markets are just secondary markets - people swapping in and out of established investments, which is OK, but doing little to finance new ideas or new businesses.

          I hope that Kicktarter and its ilk become more and more significant, to counterbalance the weight of City/Wall St corporations, but realistically, crappy asleep-when-you-really-need-them regulators like the FSA and SEC will be busily eyeing up these schemes, and looking for a way to bureaucratise them to death.

          But saying that, it doesn't make the kickstarter pledgers any good at spotting a good idea.

          1. Dave 126 Silver badge

            Re: No-one wants smart watches?

            >But saying that, it doesn't make the kickstarter pledgers any good at spotting a good idea.

            And when they floated the WWF, many of the Wall Street types thought the wrestling was real... : D

      2. ContentsMayVary

        Re: No-one wants smart watches?

        >>Errr, because the kickstarter types don't know anything? I'd like to see them prise ten million smackers out of a >>red blooded private equity investor for this tat.

        But a load of people have ALREADY PAID FOR THEM BECAUSE THEY WANTED THEM! It doesn't matter if "kickstarter types don't know anything". They still wanted the watch, didn't they? Which clearly means that it is not true that no-one wants them. Surely this is trivially obvious?

  22. Captain Hogwash

    Some of us like watches...

    ...because of the huge variety in how they look (the jewellery factor I suppose) AND in the technology they use. I have a 70s style LED, 80s style LCD, kinetic analogue and automatic analogue. I'm interested in other technologies and smart watches are just another thing to consider adding to my little collection. But I realise it's a minority interest and so they won't become mainstream without much better battery life and probably better thought out interfaces/functionality.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I stopped wearing a watch in the 1990s when I got a car. A watch is slightly more important when you're a slave to pubic (oops, missed the L) transport schedules.

    Now a watch with a decent set of location based services would be useful. It could tell you where the nearest bus home is, the train station is, maybe call for a cab.

    But apart from that, I can't really see much use for one. Too small for almost all modern smartphone features.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Also, useful for those who are confused or forgetful. People with early stages of dementia or other memory issues. It could help them get home.

  24. Zog The Undeniable

    Everyone said the iPad would fail

    but it had an Apple logo on it, so it sold like hot cakes. Normal laws do not apply.

  25. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    I wear a watch. I've worn the same watch since I was a kid. It's a Casio W-59. In fact, I've never worn any other sort of watch, except other Casios that look identical but that have different backlights (and they do a model that does the MSF radio-clock time-setting, I believe). Every single example of that watch I've worn has lasted 3-4 years and then the strap breaks and I buy another. I have a drawer full of the mechanisms with no straps on them that are STILL WORKING 10+ years later with no battery change (and changing the battery probably costs as much as a replacement even if it does ever happen). It shows me hour, minute, second, day-of-week, and date-of-month at a glance and has a little light so I can see it in the dark. When I was younger, I could read books in bed in complete darkness by the tiny light it gave out. I can set an alarm if I've nothing else on me capable of doing so. It's waterproof and pretty damn solid (even the strap, which takes YEARS to give out) so I've never managed to do any damage to or lose one from my arm even when swimming and forgetting it's there.

    And how much do I use it? Barely ever. In fact, I put it on every day and probably spend more time over my life putting it on and taking it off than I ever do looking at it, but I miss the weight of it if it's not there.

    Actually, I probably spend longer adjusting my watch once-every-six-months or so to make sure it's on "my time" than I do looking at it. Why do I carry it? Sheer habit. When I was younger I used it all the time for school. When I go to job interviews, I like to have it there to make sure I'm on time. Every other time, I don't use it and have actually pulled out a smartphone before I've realised that I'm wearing it (and, bear in mind, I've worn one every day for the past 15-20 years). I have a bad memory and so have a morning routine which involves the watch and, also, a pat-and-count of my body to make sure I have taken everything (without which, I would end up driving miles to the shops and not have my wallet on me when I get there, quite easily).

    Watches are inconvenient. If you wear long-sleeves, you have to pull them up to look at the screen. You have to sacrifice the usefulness of both hands to check the time, in that case. You have to put them on and take them off and be used to them being there (I have caught mine several times on things when working around the house and given how long I've worn them, that's quite telling).

    I work in front of a machine that displays the time, in an office with a clock, on an office phone that shows the time, with timed bells (I work in a school). At home, I have a machine that displays the time, a clock that displays the time, a TV that displays the time and various ways of discovering the time otherwise (including a drawer full of watch-faces!). In the car I have a radio that displays the time and a clock that displays the time. Walking around I have a watch that displays the time and a phone that displays the time (even when locked). I don't go anywhere without both.

    It doesn't mean I'm never late, or that I always know what the time is, but the time is everywhere. So my watch could easily do more and I would be right alongside that idea because I carry my watch and extraneous gubbins around with me all the time out of habit. But a watch that "does something" has been around since I was a kid - everything from calculators to measuring tapes to hidden pens to radios to TVs to - now - "smartwatches". I don't believe that people use them practically because they aren't in a convenient position for a) looking at anything without sacrificing at least one arm's position while you do it, b) hearing anything it does without it disturbing others, c) it hearing you speak, d) the size of the interface available on the watch, e) pressing buttons (which you have to do with your other hand rather than the "same-thumb" technique for holding a smartphone), f) being unable to comfortably use it once you've removed it (so that limits its ability and value if, like me, you take your watch off when your indoors).

    The watch is just not a convenient interface for anything, even hands-free. Nor are bluetooth headsets, I'd like to point out, but a watch even less so (not even close enough for audio in a noisy environment, for instance). Of all the space-age tech we saw in sci-fi and Bond movies over the last 5 decades, the gadget-watch has been around the longest and enjoyed the least success. I'm not surprised watch companies won't touch gadgets with a bargepole.

    Hell, I even laugh at the star-trek badge that has to be tapped to talk. I find that hilarious, given how much of a pain that must be to keep pressing (and I bet it wears a nice little hole in your nipple after a few years of busy pressing), and that's halfway between a headset and a watch for communication purposes.

    Honestly, watches are fashion items and items of habit. Nobody's needed one since mobile phones, same as address books, calendars, and calculators. Making it "smart" won't make it an overnight shock success (though, obviously, you'll always sell SOME of them). In fact, all it will do is make smartwatches things we can all laugh at.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Puzzled and saddened.

    Right now, I'm being driven in my Bentley from my Fitzrovia hedge fund townhouse office to my country estate. The markets are just where I need them to be, shorting HP continues to pay handsomely, I've glanced at my IWC (the white gold Port Perpetual today, since you ask) and I'm just reading this thread on my new iPad 4.

    I can't understand the bile and envy I see in these posts, I really can't. It's this sort of attitude that makes me realise how wise I am not to pay any tax here.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Puzzled and saddened.

      Have you got a cousin who owns a big ranch or two in the 'states?

  27. Schultz

    Size matters

    The size of a watch is just a bit small to carry the required battery and screen. I'd rather call the future device an 'electronic cuff', kind of an ultra-wide cuff of the jacket carrying the flexible interactive screen.

    Better still would be a holographic display, beamed by laser directly into the retina.

  28. roblightbody

    Sony SmartWatch is fab

    I have a Sony Smartwatch connected to my Galaxy S 3.

    It works brilliantly. A discreet vibration on my wrist and I can see who's calling me, and accept or reject the call, I can read my texts, I can read the first few sentences of my Gmails, and i can view my missed calls - all without touching my phone in my pocket. There are loads of other apps available for it too, you can go mad. It tells the time too...

    I honestly don't know why it isn't more popular, and more people aren't talking about it.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    I am a little bit of a clock nut- inherited from my grandfather who calibrated Rolexes for amusement. My ordinary watch is a cheap mechanical Seiko. No battery, and graceful degradation unlike battery watches and phones, which are either right or stopped.

    For time telling when out in the country, the mechanical watch still has the highest confidence factor.

  30. Mike Flex

    Revenue estimates

    "the global watch market is worth $US56bn"

    Though $US55.9bn of that will be made selling useless insultancy reports to gullible watch manufacturers.

  31. Robredz


    I want a watch to tell the time, nothing more, so my trusty mechanical, as in wind up Aviator Chrono will do nicely. besides it doesn't need charging it winds it self as it is worn.....

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