Commentary

Smartphone Market Waits For Time To Catch Up

More smartwatches are coming, whether masses of consumers want them or not.

The reality is that other wearable smart things are a bigger deal than smartwatches, at least at the moment. But that isn’t stopping the marketing of smartwatches or more coming into the market.

For example, Swiss watchmaker Tag Heuer recently started promoting its smartwatch with a video of a day in the life of a fashion magazine editor.

The focus is on showing that the smartwatch is stylish, in addition to providing tips, like reminders of a friend’s birthday.

Xiaomi, the $45 billion company sometimes referred to as the "Apple of China," is launching its own smartwatch this year. And there are numerous others.

But compared to other wrist wearables, smartwatches are hardly hot. Of wearable devices currently owned, Fitbit rules at 55%, compared to Apple Watch at 23%, based on a recent survey of 500 U.S. adults representative of the population, conducted by Rocket Fuel.

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And since Apple still dominates the smartwatch market, the others are even further behind that 23%, by a lot. And it’s not like the large-scale availability of smartwatches is drawing consumers in droves. For example, only 8% of households own a smartwatch and another 8% plan to buy one in the next year, according to the Consumer Technology Association annual study, which I wrote about here (20% Have Wearables, 15% More Plan To Get One).

It looks it’s going to take some time for smartwatches to catch up, especially since fitness trackers cost significantly less and they also tell the time, if that’s what someone is looking for a watch to do.

Over time, the smartwatch market may evolve as the smartphone market did. Many people didn’t rush out to get a smartphone as new models were introduced. But over time, when someone needed a new phone for whatever reason, the default phones being sold became dominated by smartphones.

Traditional watchmakers know this and many already are marketing their own smartwatches.

The evolution of the market is going to take time.

This column was originally published in Connected Thinking on May 2, 2016.

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