back to article Wearables are now a two-horse race and Google lost very badly

Did you notice anything else missing from Mobile World Congress this year? Apart from any interesting phones? Previous MWCs have been flooded by hopeful tech companies touting new wearables. The flood became a trickle, and last year Huawei and LG were the only two tech vendors left flying the flag for Android Wear smartwatches …

  1. A Non e-mouse Silver badge

    Men Vs Women

    Perhaps noticing that only men ever seem to wear an Apple Watch

    In my immediate family, I see a 50/50 split between men & women wearing Apple watches. And I've tended to see more women down the gym wearing them than men.

    1. arthoss

      Re: Men Vs Women

      yeah, in my section of the world it's also 50/50 (IT consulting, sports, photography).

    2. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: Men Vs Women

      I think I've seen a bias towards women wearing them, but then, I've not seen many people wearing them, so small samples sizes don't make for good stats, and all that.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men Vs Women

      I'd agree, I've seen as many women as men wearing them.

      However, anyone who does a lot of outdoor hill walking/mountain biking etc try out an Android Wear watch with View Ranger and the relevant OS map tiles. It's pretty amazing and when the conditions get tough can be a life saver (make sure you have a map and compass as a backup though!).

      I've used it in very tricky situations and for casual walking - works great. It's the main reason why I really hope that I can buy another one when mine finally kicks the bucket.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Men Vs Women

        I know/see far more women wearing an Apple Watch outside the gym than men, and those wearing a Fitbit outside of the gym/exercising it is almost 100% women. Men who wear watches out and about tend to wear an expensive (or at least expensive looking) fashion watch, women are more likely to wear something cheap or functional. I see plenty of Apple Watches and Fitbits in the predominantly college crowd gym I go to, but again a lot more women than men.

        A couple years ago I knew a few people wearing Android / Samsung watches but I don't recall seeing one for a long time now.

    4. This post has been deleted by its author

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men Vs Women

      "Perhaps noticing that only men ever seem to wear an Apple Watch"

      I've only seen wankers wearing them. Actually just the one wanker (although with ego enough for several) and he was male, so I suppose my experience matches that statement.

    6. Blank Reg

      Re: Men Vs Women

      For me it's a 0/0 split, I don't know anyone that owns a smartwatch, or at least not anyone willing to wear one in public. Though I know plenty of people with fitbits.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Men Vs Women

        "For me it's a 0/0 split, I don't know anyone that owns a smartwatch, or at least not anyone willing to wear one in public. Though I know plenty of people with fitbits."

        This. I have a cheapo £25 Xiaomi band, it does what I need, I can use it to tell the time if necessary, and nobody notices it. And I recharge it every 2 weeks. I have a slab with a touchscreen, thanks. (Actually I have three, let's not go there), I don't need any more.

      2. JSIM

        Re: Men Vs Women

        Yup. 0/0 for me too here in The Great White North. Don't see them, don't hear about them. Noone I know or have met wears them or talks about them. I don't even see any advertising. I don't need gyms to stay fit, so I don't know what goes on there. The wearables are yet another fad that I have no interest in, and it seems that I am not alone.

        Maybe most people are still too busy getting over the novelty and thrill of playing children's video games and texting drivel back and forth with their smartphones in the subway (underground for you chaps) to pay any attention.

        PS. Fitbit? Is that the part of me that never gets tired?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: Men Vs Women

          Rural Britain: I've seen more men than women wearing Apple Watch, and more women than men wearing fitness bands. Pure anecdotally, of course.

          My sample group is mostly composed of pub users and supermarket checkout assistants.

    7. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Men Vs Women

      Totally. Me too, a perfect 50/50: 0 men, 0 women.

      I fortunately don't have idiots in my entourage.

    8. JohnFen

      Re: Men Vs Women

      I've only personally seen two Apple watches in the wild, both worn by men. But I haven't seen any Android watches in the wild at all.

  2. Aladdin Sane

    is it worth paying £250 for?


  3. Colin Bull 1

    Fitbit - lost the plot

    My view of Fitbit is that it has quality and support issues. The Blaze has not been supported for over a year. Users are crying out for new watch faces - even just tweaks to the colours. Fitbit has not found it worth 10 minutes of developers time to put out minor mods.

    My Charge 2 developed a screen fault and I upgrade to a Blaze. The battery level indicator is a joke. It is just possible to see it when fully charged, after a day you need a magnifying glass. Pebble had a thousand and one screens to highlight what you wanted to see. Pebble was light years ahead.

    Fitbit are pissing off their user base to concentrate on the latest model.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

      Agreed, when I bought my fitbit alta hr it was touted as Android compatible. Now it seems they have a "compatible devices" list. I was not impressed because I had problems syncing with my new phone and the only support option was the forums. It almost got sent back till I realised it was the phone pairing with the device, unpaired it and it now works without problem. When I eventually get a new one it probably won't be fitbit.

      1. AMBxx Silver badge

        Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

        Fitbit is great if you want to be told you're burning 5000 calories a day while sat at your desk.

        I tried Android wear - mess of Google and manufacturer's conflicting apps.

        Settled on a Samsung something or other.

        Still miss my MS Band 2 though.

    2. Professor Clifton Shallot

      Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

      I was very peeved when Pebble was swallowed up and effectively eliminated.

      I'm currently trying a stupidly named ZeTime from the even more stupidly named MyKronoz and I have to say it has the balance about right - long battery life, waterproof, useful as a watch, with some notifications / fitness features.

      Apple / Google seem to be treating smart watches like smart phones where the 'smart' part completely overwhelmed the phone (I don't know about anyone else but I make very few phone calls). I don't need my watch to be particularly smart - it's just for quick checks on the most relevant info, not for doing stuff.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

      The wifes shop, they refer to ten as shitbit, the failure rate is REALLY high %

      Behind the Xbox360 and its 60+% failure rate, Its literally the 2nd most unreliable product ever made.

      Font know why the press give them a free pass and pretend its not happening.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Fitbit - lost the plot

        Xbox eventually replaced all affected models even outside of the warranty period and without proof of purchase. I believe some Macbooks manufactured around the same time also suffered from issues related to the same root cause - mandatory use of lead-free solder.

        A high tech manufacturer near me still uses leaded solder for its military and aerospace applications.

  4. Zippy's Sausage Factory

    I must admit I have a Chinese fitness band (I actually paid £20 for it rather than £30).

    Not only does it do everything I need it to do, well enough that I'm happy with it, it doesn't look like some horrible great 1970s retro digital nonsense.

    So I have no wish to upgrade it for an Apple one or a fitbit or whatever. Especially as my record of watches over the years is such that I forcibly stopped myself buying any watch over £30 on the grounds that I'll either break it, lose it or - in one case - take it off, leave it on the edge of my desk, accidentally knock it into the bin and have it found by the cleaner at the end of the day. (And yes, fortunately, I did get it back in that last case...)

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Wearables are just

    penal tracking bracelets disguised as fashion accessories for Fascist Victims.

    1. Dave 137

      Re: Wearables are just

      Suppose you’re right about the tracking thing, but I tend to wear mine on my wrist.

      1. kyndair
        Big Brother

        Re: Wearables are just

        but it does raise the important question of steps/wanks equivalency, enquiring minds etc.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: tracking bracelets

      I only know one person with an Apple Watch. A serious Apple fan and he wants to sell it.

      The idea of wearables is not compelling apart from fitness/health devices. The privacy and security issues need to be solved / addressed.

      Monitoring / logging (NO Internet!) of walking, heart rate/irregularities/ECG, blood pressure, sugar levels, temperature, breathing, EEG, fetus etc outside a hospital in normal life is a great idea, but useless without accuracy, reliability, privacy & security. No wireless, except optional SMS/999 module for high risk patients. Micro USB to charge and download log. Battery life needs to be several days to a week. Logging needs to be up to a month, or maybe a year, not relying on frequent downloads.

      Any display might be useful if eInk and giving text for beep alerts about need to take insulin, glucose, tablet etc in a clear fashion not needing reading glasses.

      1. Joe Werner Silver badge

        Re: tracking bracelets

        I know one person with an Apple watch. It was a present (recently) and she seems to like using it for now. At least she now sees notifications when one tries to contact her ;) and apparently it can interface with her blood sugar thingy which is really useful for her.

        She used to be very reserved towards the fruity stuff until a few months ago. And she is not impulsive, fashion driven, easily influenced etc. Bright gal, on the way to her PhD as well.

  6. Oflife


    Had it all right. Should never have sold out to FitBit.

    1. Martin 47

      Re: Pebble

      Is the right answer, if Fitbit had spent time and effort developing that further in sensible (I.e. not flashy) ways things might have looked very different today.

  7. K

    Why is Garmin

    Always overlooked in these comparisons?

    They seem to fly under the radar, but the products are solid and any serious sports person I know uses them. Admittedly for me, it gets used 3 weeks a year as a glorious GPS tracker whilst I Ski..

    1. Adrian 4

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Because the media and volume industries aren't interested in specialist products that consider function before appearance, They're only interested in bling that can be pushed through celebrity marketing to sell to a far bigger sector than actually wants them.

      This isn't surprising : they couldn't really operate only on specialist sectors, even ones as big as skiiing. But it means you can't look to them for innovation, only for acknowledgement that they see a large, uncritical market to exploit.

      When a product is differentiated by its colour, price, celebrity endorsement rather than its features, it's mainstream. Until that point, it's geek (for tech - other designations are available). I'm far more interested in the early stages but that's not for everyone.

      1. Brangdon

        Re: function before appearance

        My VivoActive 3 looks pretty enough to me. It has a round dial as god intended, you can pick which watch face you please, and the screen is always on.

        It seems wrong to praise FitBit for a 4-day battery life when my Garmin lasts 9+ days. Currently mobile payments don't work in the UK, but I'm still hopeful that will change. Many other features, including replying to text notifications.

    2. Trumpet Winsock
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why is Garmin

      I've been using Garmin watches for many years. I'm a runner and as you say they are great bits of kit for sports people.

      My current model is the 235, battery life of well over a week with constant heart rate, sleep and step monitoring, 10 hours -ish in GPS Mode. Text messages appear on my wrist and any app notification that I give permission for plus Bluetooth music control for my phone.

      Downloadable apps and customisable watch faces, plus if you are in a strange town just start a background activity when you leave your car / hotel and if you get disorientated / inebriated then the watch displays a big arrow with the distance and direction back to where you started.

      I think they are underestimated by people who just see them as Sports watches and aren't aware of their other varied functions.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why is Garmin

      It's not just serious sport people who use them (although I am one of those bores).

      At work, & about, I see more Garmins with smart functionality than any other recognisable brand of watch.

      The only time this wasn't true was at VMworld where iWatches ruled.

    4. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Yes, they're sports focused but they focus on so many sports that it shouldn't be a problem. Mine (an old one) has modes for everything from swimming to sky diving alongside all the smart functionality which people think is new.

    5. Ryan Clark

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Two new wearables in our family this year. Both Garmin.We have had 4 Fitbits over time, my daughter has lost the two expensive ones and the one I had lasted OK for a year and the battery gave out and Fitbit replaced it with another one which lasted another year before getting the same problem. I wouldn't have paid for it, came free with my last phone.

      Daughter also got a cheap Chinese tracker last year, but that didn't last a month.

      1. MrT

        Re: Why is Garmin

        Yeah, I did a trawl for a smartwatch-type device, having had one of the generic Chinese fitness band devices fail on sync after about 2 years use, and came away thinking that Garmin was a decent option. I was umming and ahhing about Forerunner735XT or Fenix 3, which are about the same price, (choice basically metal or plastic case) or VivoActive, which looks neat, costs less even if it seems to have jumped up about £50 since Christmas, but has touch screen niggles if used in the wet that don't affect the other two with their physical buttons. Garmin might have iffy customer service according to some reviewers, but their watches work for sports/fitness uses, plus don't have the sync issues with Android 6 that seem to plague some FitBit and TomTom users.

        I had considered the TomTom Runner 3 (it has multi-sports modes despite its name), which is good on the GPS/breadcrumb trail side of things, although IIRC didn't do so well on gym-based cycling/running, but it seems they've just bailed from the wearables market. Another brand a triathlete friend of mine uses and has gone back to after trying the TomTom Runner range is Suunto - seems to be a split between them and Garmin for the folk who do du-/tri-athlons, Iron Man, etc., but don't do Apple. HR on the wrist is useful, though most of the 'serious' folk would need the ability to link in HR chest bands, plus bike metrics sensors for speed/cadence.

        1. ThomH

          Re: Why is Garmin

          I'm also wearing a Garmin: I bought refurbished so for $150 that got me 8-day battery life, sports tracking with GPS and heart rate, and notifications from a paired phone. Plug it in via USB and all my data is accessible as XML (though in practice I just sync it with the Garmin app via Bluetooth). I didn't really want the notifications, but there they are.

          That said, the first one failed after about ten months — the front screen came slightly loose without my noticing, water got in and that was that. Customer service replaced it for free though, with a brand new one so the net effect was: a free spare charging cable.

        2. Edwin

          Re: Why is Garmin

          Had a fitbit, which was nice to count steps, but it's Suunto now. Very sports-centric, but all around useful enough for daily use also.

          1. Mark 110

            Re: Why is Garmin

            Thanks for the tip on the Garmins all - I have been using a Garmin Swim for years (Garmin smart watches didn't exist back then and the GPS ones didn't have pool functfions).

            Very tempted by the 735XT or 935 - both like a very nice upgrade. Time to get a new toy and hopefully get a bit of cash back on the Swim and the Cycle computer (probably give that to the nephew - he wants one) as it would replace both.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why is Garmin

              Don't buy the 735XT. The 935 is supported for another few years and is not end of life, unlike the 735XT.

              The 935 shares a common architecture with the Fenix range, finally!

              I've had both and the 935 is light years ahead in terms of functionality. It's also less than half the weight of a Fenix but provides the same functionality.

              Purchased them all online at discounted prices and it was clear that at £399 the 935 was the best. Don't pay RRP for these things! There are indeed problems but constant software updates - which I've not used as I'm happy with an old version - are available to those who experience issues with specific activities.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Why is Garmin

              The 935 has better GPS capability than the Fenix range, as its plastic. The metal bezel on the Fenix range causes major issues which include loss of GPS signal, high battery usage, multipath distortion, among other issues.

              Honestly, don't buy a fenix or 735XT!

              1. NorthernSands

                Re: Why is Garmin

                A little bit of FUD going on here. Yes, there are some people who are reporting ANT+ drop outs and some other problems, but not enough to warrant your comments. I have an F5, which I use for running (HRM and footpod) and cycling (cadence, speed, HRM and power when on the turbo) and I've not had any dropouts nor dodgy GPS. The wife's F5S also does not suffer.

                Having said that, anecdotal evidence suggests there are more problems with the Saphire versions than normal (and Garmin appear to be updating the chip / antennae for WiFi and ANT+).

                1. Candy

                  [They want] to get its first models into the hands of as many consumers as possible...

                  My anecdotal evidence with the Fenix 5X Sapphire is that it works fine whatever I need it to do. The downsides have been weight (which you get used to) and the cost. That said, this thing is enormously robust and has been bashed and scraped all over the place and still looks as good as new. Sapphire and Steel (the materials, no the show) really do make it all but indestructible.

    6. Daniel Bower

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Agree - I owned a Pebble Steel and the Fenix 5 is as close to that as I can get. The one thing it is missing is reply to text message (although the Vivoactive 3 and 645 have this to a limited extent). Other than that it does everything I used my Gear S3 for.

      Bloody love it too. In to my third week off a single battery charge and am showing 25%. No GPS use in that time but some indoor exercising. Supremely well built also and is smart enough (looks-wise, not features) to where in the office.

    7. Franco

      Re: Why is Garmin

      As others have said, TomTom is also well overlooked in this segment as it's purely a fitness tracker rather than a smart watch (or at least, I assume that's the reason)

      I never had any intention of buying one, I took up running a few years ago when I started contracting as I was rarely in one place long enough to be invited to join the 5 aside teams and often IT bods don't like such things anyway. I was using my Lumia 925 with Runtastic on it for outdoor tracking of runs, and not bothering in the gym. Was happy enough with the phone as I also used it for music (and some trail runs make carrying a phone mandatory for obvious reasons) although it required buying expensive shorts with a pocket at the rear waistband.

      I was given the TomTom Runner+Music 2 for my birthday and I have to say I really like it. Lighter than the phone, and can be used in the gym or outdoors, I already had bluetooth headphones. First thing I did was turn off the trackers though, I don't really want to know how many steps I did or how badly my watch thinks I slept and I DEFINITELY don't want to turn in to one of those twats who tells everybody else how many steps they've done constantly.

      It's also not too large or offensively ugly or anything like that so I tend to wear it as my everyday watch now, especially as I usually go to the gym after work.

      1. Dominion

        Re: Why is Garmin

        Tom Tom are / have bailed out of the wearables market.

    8. BigAndos

      Re: Why is Garmin

      I have a Garmin Vivosport which is pretty good. It does the bare minimum of things I want from a smart watch (relay notifications, let me pause/skip music) and is waterproof so I can track my swimming. It was also a pretty decent price and the battery lasts 7 days. I really don't want anything more complex than that and it is a good all rounder for the price.

      1. mrdalliard

        Re: Why is Garmin

        I had a Garmin Forerunner 205, which was great for just running. That's perhaps where I should've just stayed and never gone to a "smart" device.

        Since then, I've had four other Garmin devices, all of which failed. I've ended up using an Apple Watch Series 2 with Strava, which admittedly does fine even if it doesn't have the stellar battery life that the Garmins did.

        I didn't really want to go down the Apple route, but I can't contest that the thing has been pretty reliable. I'd still be using a Garmin now if they hadn't kept failing.

    9. Wibble

      Re: Why is Garmin

      Garmin now have an Apple-priced dive watch. The Garmin Descent is £1000 and will certainly compare very well to the likes of similar priced Suunto watches. Obviously Suunto's asleep at the wheel. IMHO the Descent is a far more attractive wearable than Apple's fugly offerings although beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

      There's definitely a market for specialist sports requirements; sailing, climbing, hillwalking, skiing, diving, flying. One of the main requirements doing these remote pastimes is battery longevity.

  8. This post has been deleted by its author

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I have a fine collection of Rolexes, including the very hard to come by Daytona...

    No real point to make, just thought I’d let you all know.

    1. arthoss

      Re: I have a fine collection of Rolexes, including the very hard to come by Daytona...

      meh. other than for investment dumb watches are just dumb.

      1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: I have a fine collection of Rolexes, including the very hard to come by Daytona...

        @arthoss: Yes, very true, but I don't think that was the OP's point. (Insert "whoosh" icon.)

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: I have a fine collection of Rolexes, including the very hard to come by Daytona...

          I'd more interested in mechanical watches if they can achieve ten years plus without a service.

          The need for a service undermines their potential 'just forget about them' appeal, especially since some Casios can go for over a decade on a single battery (plus solar and kinetic models, but I don't know the longevity if their energy storage components, battery or capacitor).

          Still, come the EMP blast I'll use one of mechanicals.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Not rocket science

        There's a beauty and provenance in a fine Swiss watch. You can appreciate the intricate craftsmanship and generations of ingenuity that went into producing such a tiny, elegant machine. I've spent quite a while staring in awe and fascination at the transparent casebacks that some mechanical watches sport.

        They were on the technological bleeding edge of the 17th century and only usurped by the brutal efficiency of quartz within our lifetimes.

        Perhaps we're too quick to dismiss things as 'Meh' or 'Dumb'.

        As for the Apple Watch - tried it, couldn't get on with it, got rid of it.

    2. Adrian 4

      Re: I have a fine collection of Rolexes, including the very hard to come by Daytona...

      Quite right too. What's the use of a Rolex if nobody else knows about it ?

      If you wanted a genuinely interesting watch, you'd go for something like an HP-01.

  10. Naselus

    Still no genuine use-case

    Smartwatches have yet to find any niche worth talking about, tbh. There's vanishingly few things that a smartwatch can do that a phone can't, and a huge list of things a phone can do that a smartwatch can't. And even those few things that a smartwatch is better for than a phone, like heart rate monitoring etc, the watch tends to be fairly terrible at - I've yet to see any evidence of a smartwatch with a remotely accurate heart rate monitoring function, and my gf's fitbit is regularly wildly wrong.

    And it doesn't seem like manufacturers try to improve these relatively few USPs, instead adding phone features which the smartwatch is genuinely horrible for instead. Even if I could get apps to work as quickly on a watch as they do on the phone, the tiny screen of a watch isn't a great input device for most of the apps I want to use on a day to day basis.

    1. Distracted

      Re: Still no genuine use-case

      I disagree.

      My good old Pebble just sits there telling me the time when I'm interested in any weather or in the water, with a watch face I can change to support my mood or needs.

      It buzzes and shows me what's in the message that just arrived so I don't have to dig into a bag or pocket or take gloves off.

      It lets me choose next tracks, pause music without having to fire up the phone or guess at the headphone buttons.

      It shows me speed, time, distance etc when I'm using runkeeper

      It tells me who's phoning me when I'm in a different room to the phone and it rings so I know whether I want to leg it to pick it up or not.

      It adds simple convenience, which is what I want.

      It's also much much cheaper than some of the old fashioned analogue watches I used to wear.

      I've been trying to find the replacement for when it eventually dies, no-one has got close.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: Still no genuine use-case

        I've been trying to find the replacement for when it eventually dies, no-one has got close.

        You've nailed the essential point of a smartwatch. It's more or less not very much without a smartphone, but functions extremely well as a "remote access" terminal for the phone.

        And aside from the runkeeper part and the cheaper-than-analogue part, my Apple Watch does all the other things you mentioned. (No, an Apple Watch is not cheaper than the most expensive analogue watch I ever bought. The late Mrs Cynic didn't like me spending much on watches, and quite frankly I wouldn't have spent anything like an Apple Watch's price on something that can only tell the time even if she had said it was OK.)

        So if runkeeper comes in an iOS version that understands the Apple Watch (the App Store says it does), you might (if you can bear to pay the AW's price(1)) consider that as a replacement.

        (1) I'm well aware that the price *is* an obstacle.

        1. Mage Silver badge

          Re: Apple Watch

          A Chinese Bluetooth indicator type watch for alerts from phone and as handsfree handset is about 1/10th cost of an Apple Watch. Takes ordinary replacement straps. Optionally takes microSD card for voice dictation / camera. Optionally SIM and works as GSM phone! Runs about two days on a charge.

          The Apple model looks well made, but otherwise is grossly overpriced. Does it work without an Apple phone unlike cheap ones that work iOS, Android and stand alone?

        2. JSIM

          Re: Still no genuine use-case

          "You've nailed the essential point of a smartwatch. It's more or less not very much without a smartphone, but functions extremely well as a "remote access" terminal for the phone."

          I once would have said that now I've heard everything but I'm sure there's plenty of craziness yet to come. If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...

          I'll just keep repeating that as necessary. Give me the strength.

          1. Steve the Cynic

            Re: Still no genuine use-case

            I once would have said that now I've heard everything but I'm sure there's plenty of craziness yet to come. If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs...

            I didn't say it was in any way *necessary*, merely that the job it does, it does well. Perhaps some people would prefer that it did more, specifically that it does interesting things that don't require a phone, but I'm pleased by how it does what it does.

            On the other hand, if it dies outside its warranty period, I'll probably buy an ordinary watch rather than a smartwatch.

            1. Dave 126 Silver badge

              Re: Still no genuine use-case

              A watch is quicker for checking things like the time, and quicker for some interactions - eg rotate a bezel to note time of event (parking meter, dinner in oven). These are demonstrably true if all watches, a smart watch is a cost/benefit analysis for the individual.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Still no genuine use-case

        My Huawei Watch 2 4G does all those things but can do them without a phone. That's super convenient. Particularly for running. I have a Note 8, and being able to just leave that behind when I don't need a camera-computer but just a phone is pretty great.

        Of course it's a niche, as long as they are expensive to buy and use, but long term - who wouldn't want this added convenience?

  11. Lysenko

    I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

    ... wearable oyster and other payments card, remote arming the car alarm, GPS, controlling ZigBee lights, YubiKey style 2FA, voice memo recording ... but "fitness"?? No. I don't give a damn how many steps a 3km walk amounts to and I don't need to obsessively monitor my pulse any more than I do my blood sugar. Medical devices like that may be useful for people with specific health conditions, but otherwise, you're just targetting narcissists and hypochondriacs.

    1. GruntyMcPugh

      Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

      I just don't understand stats monkeys, who can't go for a run without collating data about mile split times, calories, heart rate, etc etc. I run because I enjoy it.

      1. Aladdin Sane

        Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

        I run because I enjoy pizza.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

          I don't run because I enjoy pizza too much.

          1. Aladdin Sane

            Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

            Don't or can't?

        2. Steve K

          Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

          Is that so you can ambush the delivery mopeds....?

      2. arthoss

        Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

        well the fitness part is for me: keeping your heart rate where you want to train (I'm bad in the middle physical effort for instance, but good on the high effort, so I have to train where the heart ist 140-150), telling you to move around on one of those lazy days (time to stand up) and counting my swimming laps (which I really can't count by myself, and I have a distance goal). Seeing how my split time is, swimming, tells me how to swim better next time - to be less physically stressed and cover more distance. And at some point you condition yourself to fill all the circles every day - and it will make you feel good physically and mentally. Seeing how your effort capacity goes down in time lets you better plan your sport sessions in general.

        1. GruntyMcPugh

          Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

          See, to me, none of that self measuring sounds like fun. It seems a bit obsessive, unless you are a professional athlete tbh. But if if you enjoy it, fill your boots.

      3. Sam Jelfs

        Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

        I use a GPS tracker for a number of reasons - in training I use it to monitor my effort level (say some days I want to train at a specific level, esp forcing myself to run slower than I normally would), and also to quantify improvements over time, when I run the same route. But more importantly the main reason I bought the device I did was for navigation when out trail running, much easier having a device tell you which direction to run than having to read a map.

        Seen as I have a "smart" device (and I'm not sure a garmin sportswatch really compares in functionality to something like an iDevice, but thats another matter), I use it. I bought it for running a few specific events, but why not use it for the rest of the runs?

        1. Lysenko

          Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

          Sure, I can see how someone such as yourself or Mr @arthoss may have a need for special equipment for your specific sport (you probably have special shoes too), but I was really discussing mainstreaming these devices (or not). Personally, I would like a watch with a compass, altimeter and GPS because it would be useful for deploying LoraWAN sensors - but that's an even smaller niche than orienteering.

          Call me paranoid if you like, but I specifically don't want a device monitoring "me" for generic use, particularly if there is a cloud slurping dimension. I'm interested (potentially) in sensing and controlling my environment, but voluntarily instrumenting myself 24/7 on behalf of slurp corps is not going to happen.

    2. Mage Silver badge

      Re: I can think of lots of uses for a smart watch...

      Though security on contactless payment systems is garbage, partly by design so you don't have to type PIN for small purchases.

  12. johnnyblaze


    Still love my G Watch R running the latest Android Wear. The thing with wearables (like watches) is that unless you can make it desirable, it's not a compulsive purchase. Apple sell's most of their products (especially inc the Watch) as a fashion accessory - who else would launch one in 18c gold FFS! If Apple can get those watches onto the right wrists and be seen in the right places, their loyal followers will take the bait - as they always do. With Android Wear, there's none of that, so it doesn't get the column inches, or the exposure and thus doesn't have the appeal. Doesn't mean it's not a great product though, but as has been seen many times before, that doesn't mean it will be a great success.

  13. Adrian 4


    Why has Wearable Tech become equated to Smart Watches ?

    Smart watches are a boring unimaginative corner of wearables. They are, as Andrew indicates, just the tech sector trying to push a product. The fashion industry wrote them off a couple of years ago. That industry is notorious for cycles, so they might reappear - by then sufficiently powerful to be useful - in 10 years, but for now they're dead.

    But wearable tech is older and more interesting than smart phones. It's included a lot of rubbish (like bio-monitoring bras) but active clothing and jewellery (note the emphasis change from tech that's wearable to artifacts that are smart) continue to attract interest away from the blinkered corporate view.

    Please don't lump them all together.

    1. Mage Silver badge

      Re: Wearables

      Any "wearable" other than fitness/health monitor / watch, or a smart phone is a solution looking for a problem or dystopia.

      What else is there (no not AR specs + camera, especially not disguised as contact lenses.)? Hearing aids? Camera / face recognition blockers? LED soles / laces / buttons / beanie lights?

  14. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Which idiot and why?

  15. Aristotles slow and dimwitted horse

    It's now a two-horse race – three if you're generous

    No it's not. You are forgetting Garmin, Suunto and TomTom whom all provide products in exactly the same space as FitBit - so why so obviously exclude those three?

  16. Joe Harrison

    Def worth 20 quid

    I too have the famous Chinese wearable (Xiaomi Mi Band 2) and think it's fantastic - for less than 20 quid. Doubt if I would be so enthusiastic if I'd paid 250 of course. It does all the heart rates and step-counting and all that but I find if you turn that stuff off the battery life improves dramatically and I can almost get two weeks out of it.

    So why do I have it, I can hear you ask, well it is so useful in meetings or presentations where your phone is on silent. Can look rude pulling your phone out to look at an incoming message but much more acceptable discreetly looking at your wrist when it buzzes.

  17. arthoss

    using Siri

    my apple watch selects music while I'm driving (play Moby), I use the timer a lot (through Siri), I'm checking sunset/sunrise times (photography) and weather as well as moon phase (photography). I think a lot of little apps should be created as widgets on the watch, because that's its strength. From the dumb watches the one thing I always wanted was the moon phase and the date. There is no smartwatch anymore. There is watch and dumb watch.

  18. John Robson Silver badge


    I stopped wearing a watch years ago (my phone was a more accurate and useful device) so I need something pretty useful to make me want anything on my wrist.

    I had a pebble for a while, I liked the ease of glancing at notifications, but that also made them more intrusive (even when driving it was tempting to just twist the wrist a bit).

    I have to look at them and consider them a solution without a problem for most cases (kind of neat HR monitor, but really???)

  19. fnusnu

    Why spend £250 on a smartwatch you'll have to chuck in 3 years...

    ...when you can spend a similar sum and buy a decent watch which will last your whole life - and possibly longer?

  20. Chands

    I still have my Android Wear Asus ZenWatch 1 ( ~ £160?) I would still rather have it than a normal watch. I bought it as a 'want' but I find it really useful and people often go 'oh that's useful' when i check my msgs or ignore calls via my watch in a restaurant or a pub, not having to dig out my phone.

    I like that I can get bored with a watch face and change it. if i'm walking using google maps i don't have to walk around holding the phone up .. i can take cursory looks at my watch that shows my directions.

    Handy compass, don't need, but ultra handy when I need it .. cos what's the chance i'll have or want to carry around a real compass !!

    Send quick texts via voice, usually in the car, so I only look stupid, not sound stupid as well.

    I'd miss it if it wasn't there and products like that are what google are about, filling gaps you never knew you had.

    It's just 'acceptability' that's causing people to not adopt.

    I still feel a fool talking to a blue tooth headset because you look like you're talking to no one .. so again, look silly, but it's so useful being hands free not holding the damn phone to your head.

    All this new technology, when it's habit changing naturally gets a lot of resistance until it's common place.

    Shame Android Wear is not being adopted widely.

  21. JDX Gold badge

    I remember Watch being laughed off at launch

    Expensive, not waterproof and crap. It didn't sell well and seemed doomed to disappear.

    Did Apple pull it out of the bag then, I hadn't noticed much chat about it to know if sales took off. I thought back then the feeling was FitBit et al had stolen the wearable market - simpler, more targeted devices.

    1. Nick Pettefar

      Re: I remember Watch being laughed off at launch

      I still wear my series 1 Apple Watch every day.

      1. Steve the Cynic

        Re: I remember Watch being laughed off at launch

        Mine is Series 2,(1) but yeah, I wear it every day, and I use at least some aspect that isn't just "what time is it?" every day as well, even if it's just "how fecking cold is it out there?" before I go out.

        (1) So it is allegedly 50 metre waterproof. But the original and Series 1 are both rated IP67, so should be OK in the rain or e.g. while doing the washing up.

        1. Gary 24

          Re: I remember Watch being laughed off at launch

          I Had the original Series 1 watch and used to swim in it just fine, even outdoor swimming in Salford Quays.... I now have the Series 3, it's strengths for me? Making me lose 5 stone in weight and getting fit. I wear it all day every day, Series 3 has about 2 - 3 days battery life (less if you exercise) is easy to use and I get streaming music whilst leaving my phone behind for an outdoor run. It's a marvel!

          Outside of fitness can I still pin point the killer feature to say to people you should get one? No... not really.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Until battery life has improved significantly, negating the need to recharge it frequently

    No one will care about wearables. The exceptions are exercise bands and bands to monitor children, elderly, prisoners, but those are niche products.

    You can do everything you want with a traditional wrist watch and a smartphone.

    Also, some wrist watches are mementos, handed down from generation to generation. Try doing that with a smartwatch which becomes obsolete within months.

    1. Steve the Cynic

      Re: Until battery life has improved significantly, negating the need to recharge it frequently

      My experience is that an Apple Watch with WatchOS 1 would drain to 57% after one day, but with WatchOS 3+, it goes to mid-80s% or so. And it goes on charge at night when I'm not wearing it anyway.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Until battery life has improved significantly, negating the need to recharge it frequently

        Battery life issue with watches is much the same as with phones. Recharging them daily overnight is not a major issue so getting battery that will comfortably manage a day (and ideally cope for 2 days in case you forget to recharge one night) is the initial requirement - with a Moto Z Play I've hit that with my phone the Sony SW3 I used to have also met this requirement - my current Fossil smartwatch will last a day but wouldn't last 2 without doing things like switching idle display off etc. After the "lasts one day comfortably and manages for 2 if necessary" stage then, in my view, there's not much benefit in increasing battery life until it will last several weeks between charges - lasting 3 or 4 days is really little benefit over lasting 1 or 2 because its unlikely you'll tick off days until you need to recharge and end up charging every night.

  23. rob miller

    Misfit Speedo Shine 2

    £17 at tkmax around xmas, that was my toy this year. Right price (definitely not the £60 retail), claimed waterproof to 50m so don't worry about it too much. Kinda tells time (to within 5 minutes), counts steps, interesting sleep tracking data. Annoyed that I am sharing my data with misfit when they aren't sharing their aggregate data with me, no other complaints. Otherwise haven't worn a watch for 5 years now. Like the other brands, the rest of their line expanding into smart and bulky, apparently simple/small/useful/cheap doesn't make them enough money.

    1. dermots

      Re: Misfit Speedo Shine 2

      Between myself and my partner we had 3 Misfit devices, one failed within warranty and was replaced by them. This replacement and the other original one then failed just after the warranty period ended. Support is bad, quality abysmal.

      Have been using a Samsung Gear Fit2 for over a year and despite some occasional glitches I love it.

  24. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Maybe Google decided it wasn't a race worth being in

    Sometimes the best business is the one that realises this early enough. Such as Lou Gerstner's decision to get out of operating systems.

    Of course, as long as Apple is still piling on the millions it might seem to be a good thing but it is also an example of Apple taking its eye off the ball. The market for car systems and home automation is so much bigger and Amazon, Google and Baidu are already well ahead of Apple there.

    I seem to remember reading somewhere that the Swiss manufacturers have managed to get smarts into watches for those that want them. But otherwise a fitness band and a headset would seem to be about all you need.

    BTW. I like the Withings for a something between a band and full-blown thing with a tiny screen.

  25. DenTheMan

    First one I saw in the wild

    Had a gloriously bright placcy strap.

    I instantly new only an Apple buyer would think it looked fashionable.

  26. JohnFen

    What I want

    I don't want an iWatch, Android Wear, or Ionic. I want a low-power, limited functionality wearable extension of my smartphone. A Pebble.

  27. Chemical Bob
    Thumb Down

    "The failure of the wearables segment reflects badly on an industry that flings technology it thinks is cool at the market that nobody actually wants."

    No, the failure of the wearables segment indicates that it needs to be beaten to death with it's own shoes.

  28. aaaa

    Smallest phone

    I like a small phone, and for various reasons I'm kinda stuck in the Apple eco-system. I like my gen 1 iPhone SE, but I'm not looking forward to upgrading to either iPhone Huge, iPhone Enormous or iPhone Massive when the time comes. So I'm seriously considering keeping the SE and just buying an Apple Watch Cellular. Once the watch is configured, it goes in the draw. I think with Siri and a couple of apps I probably have everything I need until I get home.

    Three things I'm still concerned about:

    - I'm often stuck needing to do a little internet banking cash management when I'm at the shop - the Watch app seems to not allow transfers, only balances. I suppose I could use phone banking at a stretch tho. Or just keep my Apple Pay account topped up more regularly...

    - battery life

    - camera (but I think I have this worked out - buying a Red Hydrogen One as purely a camera)

    I'll probably hang out on my decision until April or May and see it it looks like there will be an Apple Watch Series 4 with better battery...

  29. JeffyPoooh

    Apple vs. Android

    I've noticed that people with iPhones, if they purchase a smart watch, tend to buy an Apple smart watch. Coincidentally, those with Android phones tend to buy smart watches, if they do, that are compatible with Android phones. It's a very strange coincidence.

  30. Tim Seventh

    Smart Watch Expectation vs Reality

    Let's start with the fact. There's no problem with the demand of smart watch. It is the problem with their expectation.

    Apple after selling plenty of iPhone launched the Apple Watch. Apple and the media expectation was that it would sell just as well as the iPhone. That was their mistake. It isn't suppose to.

    In reality, smart watch doesn't cover remotely what smart phone can give. Along with the fact that most smart watch need a smart phone to get their feature fully work, overlapped features becomes a non-benefit to smart watch. After you lineup the true additions of the smart watch to smart phone, then the market is left with only a small pool of consumers who wants a smart watch.

    It's like high-grade expensive non-smart watch. It has a small pool of consumers who want it anyway, but that's not the same pool of consumers as the smart phone market.

    As a result, the smart watch hype leaves only those manufactures who either copied Apple Watch for a smart watch but didn't put in as much investment, and those who manufacture watches from the start get a nice profit from the new smart watch trend, while those large brands like Apple and Google just don't get the returns they expected.

    With a poor return on their expectation, it makes sense why they and the media no longer try to market the product since they've already wasted too much money on their initial incorrect marketing investment. If they had lower expectation from the start, they would have been doing much better.

  31. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    What about Garmin? I felt sure they'd get a mention given how many folks use their tech. Slightly surprised. I guess the trouble with these things is that (like tablets and smartphones) they've not really moved on since they came out (with the exception of when GPS and heart rate became the norm). The test for me was always going to be watching (sorry) Rolex and Omega to see how they responded to the threat. Their answer seems to have been "our customers have two wrists".... Clearly not really seeing it as a threat?

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Anything else missing?

    "Did you notice anything else missing from Mobile World Congress this year? Apart from any interesting phones?"

    Yes, the Catalan leadership, who are either in prison without trial, in exile, or refused to attend in protest as the Spanish king's presence who is accused of condoning acts of state violence against his own subjects.

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "But Google saw which way the wind was blowing and began to target brands"

    "and the {Fitbit Iconic's] stark design is a matter of taste. You either hate it, or... er... get used to it, it seems."

    I think these two statements, in my mind, indicate a positive move for Google/AndroidWear ... they are getting watches made by companies who know what watches are meant to be like. I first got a Sony SW3 ... in many ways a good smartwatch but looks-wise it was a bit clunky (and also a bit like the AppleWatch) and had a key failing that, despite my buting the metal strap version, the watch housing was plastic so it cracked when I dropped it. Since then I've moved to a Fossil smartwatch - its great, it looks like a "proper" watch, its made of metal. In featuers its not quite on par with SW3 (don't think it has its own GPS) or other smartwatches (no HWM - SW3 didn't either) but these aren't things that are essemtial to me.

  34. SniperPenguin

    Another Pebble Fan here

    From using the Pebble 2 since the Kickstarter days, I was gutted when I heard about the FitBit purchase.

    However, the Ionic is a step in the right direction, and you can see where the Pebble dev team have had their influence. I think with a few software updates, we will be back in Pebble-ish territory.

  35. This post has been deleted by its author

  36. James O'Shea

    relevant image

    wake me when they get to the gold standard. <>

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Handy lookup chart...

    Apple Watch - Barista.

    Apple Watch in ceramic - Coke dealer (ex barista).

    Samsung - entirely missed the point.

    Any other smart watch - North Face wearing saddo. May aspire to Superdry, but kids are so expensive aren't they?

    Pebble wearer - Saddo. Clothes so generic as to be not worth commenting on.

    Garmin - exercise bore. Has one of those stupid bikes with fold-up wheels. MAMIL.

    Fitbit - Fat, middle aged. Getting fatter.

    Fitbit blaze - 40-something woman. Soon to be 50-something. Member of book club which she thinks is ironic.

    Tag Connected smart watch - more money than sense (which is generally a good place to be).

    Seiko - North Face wearing saddo.

    Casio - Could be anything really from idiot student to balding accountant.

  38. Stjalodbaer


    What watch ? Apple watch.

    Like the lady, all the girls I meet wear Apple watches.

    Watch as standalone phone could be here but for telcos.

    Now for some cognac ...

  39. nastia_o

    It's true that Google continues losing the game to its competitors. The typical complaints about Android Wear’s functionality didn’t disappear, even after the latest Wear OS updates:

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