Tuesday, September 3, 2013

What Would Dick Tracy Wear?

Do people want smartwatches, in the style of Dick Tracy? OK, Dick's watch was a 2-way radio, introduced in 1946 . . . but do Millennials really want to strap on a phone/web browser/personal data storage device?

When the New York Times's digital expert David Pogue looked at smartwatches just seven months ago, he was unimpressed. "As though by silent agreement, the gadget industry seems to have decided that 2013 is the year of the smartwatch," he wrote in February. He concluded at the time that the gadgets he reviewed weren't very impressive (and were expensive to boot).

That was before Samsung's Galaxy Gear, to be introduced shortly (photo above is from the intro presentation--product to be available from October in US stores). Samsung wants to polish its innovation credentials and beat Apple to the punch in launching a new wearable device that is both fashionable and functional. Pre-intro, speculation is that the Gear will have a 4-meg camera, be Android-operable, and have both Bluetooth and WiFi capabilities--when paired with a smartphone, most likely. (Intro: 1.63" screen, make/take calls without having phone in hand, Bluetooth connection...and available in 6 colors, as shown above.)

But what about the smartwatch as a product category? Given the enormous popularity of tablet computers, and the ongoing erosion of PC sales, will the smartwatch be a short-lived niche or will it develop into a sizable segment? Already, one-third of U.S. consumers own some sort of tablet (iPad, Kindle Fire, Tab, Nexus, etc). And many tablets are downsizing for better portability. How tiny do consumers want their screens to be?

Would Dick Tracy strap on a Galaxy Gear? 

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