Archives For smartwatch

Wrist-computing is a powerful opportunity to change how humans interact with each other, businesses and content. At Weber Shandwick, we’re excited for the launch of new players in the mobile and smart watch space, but we’re also realistic about how soon it will be eclipsed by something better as the technology, software and value-proposition for smart watches improve.

We know early entrants to the smart watch market are experiencing stiff adoption, high-return rates and low satisfaction rates, and we also know that Apple doesn’t enter a new market without a significant amount of research, planning and confidence it will dominate. That is why the device won’t be on the market until after the holiday season. Unlike the iPhone 6, which you can order next week, the watch isn’t ready for primetime. By early 2015, we should expect the user-experience and value will justify its price tag for early adopters (and more general consumers).

The ability to wrap quantified-self and mobile payments into the watch are two other areas we’re watching closely. The research that shows today’s self-tracking products are popular for six months before they are discontinued wasn’t lost on Apple. They have deliberately incorporated quantified self-tracking sensors, software and gamification into the device to maximize the benefits users will get from daily wear of the Apple Watch.

Having the ability to check out at the store without pulling out a wallet or purse is only half of the benefit of mobile and watch-based payments. Americans are sick of the words “data breach,” and Apple Pay could help popularize security best practices — like two- and three-factor authentication — without adding significant time or effort to consumer purchase behavior. In typical Apple fashion, they launched with large, global partners who already have the technological infrastructure in place to help drive mainstream adoption of mobile payments.

Lastly, because we’re always thinking about the changing nature of how humans consume content from publishers, companies and each other, at Weber Shandwick we’ve been talking to our clients about their smart watch content strategy for over a year now. That’s a thing now: smart watch content strategy.

Just as we help brands adapt their content from a website to a mobile experience, we’ll need to determine how content is shared on wrist-screens, too. It’s an exciting evolution milestone for consumer engagement strategies and content marketing programs, and we’re excited to be part of driving value on behalf of our clients and their stakeholders.

Last Monday night (Apple Watch Eve), I had the opportunity to lead a discussion about smart watches with the Mobile Twin Cities developer community. You can read more insights from that meeting here and see my presentation here.


Apple Watch

Star Tribune: What would it take for you to buy a smartwatch?

Local tech enthusiasts discussed that at a Mobile Twin Cities group gathering the evening before Apple’s big announcement. In a room with 20 tech savvy people, only a couple had purchased one of the existing smartwatches on the market. (Here’s a nice side-by-side comparison of Apple Watch and some of its competitors.)

What made them hesitate? Price. Concerns about battery life and the hassle of charging. Durability. Doubts that a smartwatch can do that much more than a smartphone already does.

Nevermind that a large chunk of the population ditched their watches in favor of using smartphones to keep track of time. There’s this idea (in the tech community, anyway) that the watch is where it’s at.

Greg Swan, senior vice president for digital strategy at Weber Shandwick, pointed out that the smartwatch has been a cultural touchstone for decades. Dick Tracy, James Bond, the Jetsons, Penny from the Inspector Gadget cartoons. They all had smartwatches.

“We have this amazing dream and this cultural vision of what we expect watches to do,” said Swan, who started the discussion with a presentation, “Smartwatches: Past, Present and Future.

After watching the Apple announcement, Swan put it this way: “The ability for consumers to pay for goods and services via phone or watch isn’t new, but with today’s Apple Pay announcement, it’s no longer niche.

Read the whole piece here.
See my Apple-Watch-Eve presentation on smart watches for Mobile Twin Cities here.


On the eve of Apple’s iPhone 6 and POTENTIAL smartwatch introduction, I was invited to share a presentation and lead a discussion about smartwatches with the intelligentsia of Mobile Twin Cities.

As a passionate fan of smartwatch technology, quantified self and consumer adoption habits, this was a fun area to research and resulted in a fantastic two-way discussion with the developers, technologists and skeptics in the room.

I guess we’ll see what Apple has in store for the market just a little later today.

This VTech KidiZoom Smart Watch has “a 1.4-inch touchscreen that incorporates built-in motion sensors and digital tools alongside traditional timekeeping. The watch itself can switch from a digital to analog clock, with customizable wallpaper behind it, and also has the ability to support taking photos, videos, and playing games.”

The price is excellent, at $50. I do wish it had GPS so I could track my kid, and although it may increase the price point (or have a monthly fee), it would be worth it. We’ve had issues of not being able to find our son in the neighborhood after he gets off the bus (he was hidden, playing behind a snow drift last time). Seems like adding tracking functionality is not far off in kid products (beyond chipping your kid or buying a child a Pebble or Kreyos or Gear or the rumored Apple and Google Watches won’t be affordable or have the intuitive interface an elementary child needs).

As for VTech products, we have many. They are hardy, but don’t seem to last much longer than 12 months of average abuse. But after a year, the technology has changed and a new product makes sense anyway. Again, at the $50 price point, that isn’t really a factor.

PSFK: Smartwatch For Kids Introduces Wearable Tech At An Early Age.

smartwatches screenshot from googleIf you don’t have to recharge your watch every few days, you’re doing it wrong. Embrace the smart!

In the news right now:

Setting the brands and specific products aside, the arguments against the smartwatches category are boring: They aren’t fashionable. They have poor battery life. They don’t solve a problem. Etc.

What people are missing is that smartwatches involve a different type of user behavior of which we aren’t yet accustomed. Much like pagers and cell phones in their emerging years, they smartwatches solve a problem we don’t yet know we have.

For example, I’ve been loving my Pebble because it stops me from phubbing. Did you know phubbing was a problem? Now you do. And now you know there’s a solution. It was that easy for me to give credibility to the need for a smartwatch, and we’ve only scratched the surface.

The argument that these first generation smartwatches can only receive information and not send it will quickly be rendered moot as watches like the Kreyos start shipping (yes, I ordered one).

The argument that these first generation smartwatches are merely bluetooth slaves to our phones will quickly be rendered moot as watches like the standalone Omate Truesmart start shipping (yes, I ordered one).

The argument that these watches should track our health habits, like Fitbit and Fuelband wrist devices, will be easily dismissed as sensors grow smarter and cheaper. Arguably, your smart phone can track some of these same metrics, but today, you wear a quantified self band anyway. I would watch Adidas miCoach and the big tech company devices carefully. They will all have this functionality long-term.

In that same line of thinking, the argument that these watches don’t do enough will be rendered moot over time. But that’s a long-tail play. We didn’t wait to buy cameras, video cameras, mp3 players and cell phones waiting for an iPhone that could do it all. And we shouldn’t wait for the perfect mega-watch before trying to find value in today’s technology.

The argument that these watches aren’t mainstream will quickly be rendered moot as companies like Google, Apple and Samsung start building affordable wearable tech and selling them through mainstream retailers like Best Buy.

The arguments about fashion and battery life will take care of themselves over time. These are non-arguments not worth engaging upon. If you don’t like the look, don’t wear it and don’t benefit from it. See also: dental braces, eyeglasses, orthopedic shoes, carpal tunnel wrist supports.

I have answers for a lot of the arguments, but I’ll admit the idea that this wearable technology is eroding culture and infringing upon interpersonal communication is valid. Yep, totally true, and I believe it is a negative. But I will also point out that it’s unstoppable. We want our always-on direct access to the social and information web in the way that’s most convenient, and today that access is trending toward wearable tech.

In truth, the benefits outweigh the detractions, therefore smartwatches are coming to a wrist near you.

Rather than dismiss and criticize these emerging platforms, I would rather spend my time experimenting and trying to perceive their value. I want to understand how they will impact consumer culture and how brands can participate in the process in a way that adds measurable value.

I walk around with a Nike Fuelband, a Pebble smartwatch, Google Glass, an iPhone, a Motorola Atrix, a Macbook and a spare lithium battery to charge up all my devices. Although I can’t wait for the era when one small device will do it all, I’ll gladly enjoy the fruits of today’s technology in the meantime.

And by the way, once we get the smartwatch debate settled…next up: the battle for the second wrist! Don’t roll your eyes. Get excited!