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Smart Watches: Do We Really Need Another Smart Device?

An artist's illustration of what the iWatch could look like

Smart Watches: Do We Really Need Another Smart Device?

With the recent announcement that Apple has applied to trademark the name iWatch in Japan the already rumored new smart watch moves closer to becoming a real product. The list of smart devices continues to grow as the iWatch joins Google Glass, smart phones, tablets and existing android smart watches in the crowed smart device market. But where does this end?

Products are supposed to fit a niche or fill a need that is missing in the current market. Are we seeing a shift away from phones and tablets to wearable smart devices or is this just a cash grab that relies on a redundant system and the Apple fan base?


As of now, little is known about the Apple iWatch. Everything said in the media today is speculation and hyperbole. So, let’s speculate as well. What is the purpose of a smart watch? First off, the size is a constraint that has to be reckoned with. The proposed iWatch screen is curved and only 1.5” of viewable real estate.

To put that size into perspective, consider the iPhone 4 screen and the fact that a 1.5” square would only allow for four icons to be visible with a border and maybe a small portion of some text. The 1.5” size also restricts the amount of circuitry and storage inside the watch itself as few people would want to wear a half-inch block on their wrist. So what good is a small screen, a few icons, and limited resources? Would any existing apps be able to utilize the small space or is a new "Watch App" market going to need to evolve?

Do we need yet another smart device?

I just do not see the benefits of using a smart watch alongside an existing smart phone. Most people, myself included, have stopped wearing watches outside of formal occasions because we can tell time well enough on our phones or mini-tablets. So if the iWatch is not about telling time, is it a replacement for my phone? Suddenly I am having flashbacks to old 70s spy TV shows and secret agents talking into their watch in hilariously obvious ways. Better yet, maybe the iWatch is being created as an attempt to provide a real use for those god-awful Bluetooth ear pieces that no one looks good wearing.

As an individual product designed to be used alongside a smart phone or tablet, the iWatch or smart watch idea makes little to no sense. The product seems to be nothing more than a simplified smart phone that straps to your wrist and offers less functionality. As a standalone product with a purposeful design and limited scope, the iWatch might be an adequate status symbol for Apple adherents, but to an existing smart phone user not looking to downsize the choice is clear. The iWatch will be an iWaste.

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