In that never-ending search for “the next big thing in tech,” talk has turned to wearable gadgets, especially in the form of a smartwatch that syncs with your smartphone.
Assuming the reports are true — and they’re far too numerous and consistent not to be — a big wave of new smartwatches is coming soon.
But these wrist gadgets are nothing new. In fact, smartwatches have a long history of failure, especially in recent years as the modern smartphone market began its explosive growth. Too many companies tried too hard to make the dream of a Dick Tracy-style watch happen before we were ready for it.
There’s an extensive list of smartwatch blunders in recent years.
Microsoft created a software platform called SPOT that delivered news updates to watches via FM radio waves for $59 a year. Companies such as Swatch and Fossil signed on to make compatible devices, but SPOT bombed. Microsoft killed it in 2008.
Then there were watches that doubled as smartphones. LG and Samsung gave that category a whirl late last decade, but the devices were way too expensive and not nearly as functional as a traditional smartphone.
And Sony, a company desperately trying to remain relevant in today’s mobile-centric world, still sells an Android-based smartwatch that it introduced last year, but reviews of the device are pretty bad.
So are Apple, Samsung and Google setting themselves up for failure?