I was being a bit cryptic when I said that but let me explain what I mean by the term rugged! First lets get the boring bits out of the way…
… Yes it’s a watch, yes it’s a smartphone that looks like a watch, yes all the main smartphone manufacturers have made or are making one and yes at first glance no-one really understands them or sees the point past looking “ahem”… cool. I use the word “cool” and Samsung in the same sentence very carefully might I add! Also just what is a rugged PDA supplier talking about a Samsung watch for? Well we also make embedded gadgets here too so we understand the value of machines talking to each other here a lot and whether you still call it M2M (showing my age there!) or “the internet of things” it’s still all about machines taking out the human element.
So just what the heck I am I on about then!? Well I’ve been keeping a close eye on these smartphone watches and I’ve also been talking to a lot of people online about them and 2 themes seem to keep coming to the top. Theme 1 is about the fashion element of a watch. It’s one fact that you don’t want a smartphone on your wrist but here lies the real secret. I don’t like wearing watches, I use a keyboard at work, lots and a watch is not for me. If I do wear one it’s going to be my 22 year old Seiko divers watch that makes me feel like (a poor) James Bond!
My other half isn’t going to change her elegant silver time piece that she loves dearly and matches her earrings, and after asking other people they’re all saying to me that their wrist is already reserved. There’s a lot of brands that have that left or right wrist reserved in us folk and when it comes down to it who’s going to have the brand to knock off fashion selected ones like Omega, Rolex or maybe G-Shock, Seiko etc. The point i’m trying to make is that whilst i’m happy to be seen with an Apple pinned to my ear. I’m not going to wear the T-Shirt and that probably means that i’m not going to “wear” apple on my wrist, let alone Samsung!
The second theme is the other thing that has hugely bothered in a lot of the journalism surrounding the Samsung watch launch and that’s people who are moaning that it isn’t actually a stand alone smartphone and it needs a specific Samsung smartphone to work with. I mean really? You actually want to look like a dork taking calls on your watch phone or perhaps you like being in a carriage full of people all using their speaker wrist phones so they can talk and hear at the same time? I can also just see people trying to text with tiny keys on the move? However this misses the point of these devices in my view.
I think clever Android software people (like us ;-)) are going to work out what these watches can really help with and then I think once we’ve got passed being wowed by BBC’s weather app, we’ll start to see some true business applications appear on these devices. Maybe an alert for nurses or a courier pickup or some kind of routing for walkers… I don’t know just yet but I sure as hell think they are a platform, in conjunction with the power of a full smartphone that could work in concept.
So on the one hand I think the concept of the smart watch has a battle to fight for that wrist space, and it’s really disappointing to see some really big companies completely over-estimate their brand kudos in this sense and not even think of going into a partnership with a fashion or sports brand. However on the other hand i’m really excited about all the M2M widget type apps that these wrist devices could actually help us with. Add a better way to let people choose how to carry the device or embed them into cars and vans and they could just work.
I say watch this space, especially when Apple launch theirs and some kind of critical mass hits the market.
The rugged and mobile blog