Q: You walk into a showroom to find a Chevy Volt, a 3D printer, and a Samsung Galaxy Gear Smartwatch. Which should you buy?
A: The 3D printer. Print $40,299 and a Xanax, buy the Volt and the watch with the money, and drive off into the sunset. About 45 minutes later when the Volt’s battery dies and you realize a $299 smartwatch can’t even make a dumb phone call for help, take the Xanax.
Okay, so I’m not going to quit my day job and become a standup comedian. But the point is, just as with plug-in electric cars and 3D printers, smartwatches aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. Here are 10 reasons why I’m not falling for all the hype and, if you’re smart, neither will you.
What about your other watch? Here’s the thing: most of us already have at least one watch we spent some dough on and like to wear. You know, like a Rolex, a TAG Heuer, an Omega, even a Swatch or two. It’s actually a pretty big industry, in case you didn’t know. What are you going to do, wear one on each arm? You’ll look ridiculous.
If I can’t watch Duck Dynasty on it, then what’s the point? Well, maybe if it had some James Bond spy functions like a pullout wire garrote or it shoots tiny explosive darts, that might be cool. I’ll have to think about it.
They’re too complicated. Apple is the most valuable tech company because its products work. They just plain work – easily, seamlessly, right out of the box. For a smartwatch to do anything cool, it has to be paired with a smartphone or a tablet. That’s too complicated. Even then, it’s got a tiny screen with limited capability. Nine times out of 10 you’re going to get frustrated and just pull out your phone. It’s way easier.
A health tracker? Please. A top dog at CNET says the ideal smartwatch will be a health tracker. Really? I’m a runner. I own a pair of sneakers, shorts, and socks. I don’t need to know how far I run or how many calories I burn. I know I’m fit because my clothes fit. Funny how the more fitness stuff we buy the fatter we become. If everyone would quit trying to be so smart and just go out and do something, there’d be no obesity epidemic.
What’s the killer app? Every smart gadget you own has at least one killer app. That’s why you plunked down cash to buy it. That’s why if you leave home without it you have a panic attack. You have to have it. For that to be true of a smartwatch, it has to be able to do at least one killer app such as voice-to-text or navigation hands-free, all the time, and not just with limited capability.
It might clash with your glasses. Wouldn’t it be a real bummer if Google Glass turns out to be the next big thing? All the cool people are walking around sporting these high-tech glasses and you’re stuck with a dumb-looking wristwatch that can’t do squat on its own?
I’m terrified the radiation from all these smart gadgets is frying my brain. Nah, just kidding. I may be neurotic but I’m not a whacko.
The one I want doesn’t exist yet. Look, I know a great product when I see one. I knew the iPhone and iPad were category killers when they launched. I don’t know what kind of smartwatch is worth buying; all I know is I haven’t seen it yet. Maybe Apple’s long-rumored iWatch will be the next big thing. We’re just going to have to wait and see.
That’s just what we need. We all complain about information overload, having to be on 24x7, and having no time to do anything. We’re all hopelessly addicted to the distraction and attention we get from our smartphones, iPads, Twitter, Facebook, and all those apps. Is this really what we all need, another smart gadget? Like an alcoholic needs a bottle of whisky.
I’m holding out for implants. The more I think about it, maybe I’ll just skip the whole wearable thing all together and go straight to implants. Hey, you never know.
Steve Tobak is a Silicon Valley-based strategy consultant and former senior executive of the technology industry.