Report: people are very interested in smartwatches, but end up largely disappointed after buying them


The wearable industry is in full swing. Well-regarded IDC researchers forecast that 2016 will see a combined 111.1 million units shipped, up from 80 million last year, which amounts to a 44.4% increase. But intense growth doesn't mean manufacturers have it all figured out. Rather, the more people get their hands on smartwatches and fitness trackers, the more their shortcomings and flaws are exposed.

Consider Ericsson's extensive report on customer adoption of wearables. Surveying 5,000 people from across the globe, the report describes an increased desire for wearables in smartphone owners, but also considerable dissatisfaction among those who already have the former. A worrying tendency is that 33% of the surveyed abandoned their devices just weeks after they got them. While nine out of ten wearable owners still hold onto their devices, something in their basic formula is clearly mis-calculated.

Despite fitness trackers displaying good sales with their clear purpose and aim at sports enthusiasts, they still leave something to be desired. Six out of ten people said wearables should be able to do more than track fitness metrics, and 25% of those who purchased one admitted to expecting more than they got. The report suggests that even new owners – ones who purchased a recent device in the first quarter of 2016 – are disappointed with the current generation of products. As many as 21% complained of limited functionality, poor battery life, questionable designs and problematic integration with smartphones, in addition to lack of third party developer support and a convoluted user experience.

Another prominent point of dissatisfaction is that wearables still depend on being tethered to a smartphone. It's not just the purely functional aspect that's bothersome – for example, one third of smartphone owners explained that the costs of connecting digital devices has kept them from investing in wearable technology. Ericsson argues that cellular service providers must come up with new plans for wearable connectivity, with prices adjusted according to customers' expectations. Researchers also suggested that future wearables should be sold as part of "smart bundles with connectivity," in order to overcome their connectivity and functionality limitations.

While the words "dissatisfaction" and "disappointment" dominate the article, wearables are still an object of interest for consumers. Consider that smartwatch shipments have already beaten those of Swiss watches, with 8.1 million wearables standing against 7.9 million Swatches and Tag Heuers in the last financial quarter of 2015. Conservative Swiss manufacturers have voiced their disbelief in s,artwatches, largely dismissing them as nothing more than a passing fad or offering half-hearted attempts at a Swiss-made smartwatch. Take the the $1500 Tag Heuer Connected, which is basically sold as a demo for a $3000 Carrera wristwatch or Swatch's unpretentious take on the concept. However, smartwatches' novelty factor and affordable (in comparison) prices are making Swiss brands less relevant to consumers.

Witnessing the potential, wearable producers are hard at work building better products that are faithful to customer requests. Apple, whose Apple Watch dominates the smartwatch market, has been making key improvements to the product as evident by the performance and fitness-tracking refinements inside the upcoming WatchOS 3. The company is also expected to unveil a second-generation Apple Watch this Fall, which is rumored to be an independent device capable of replacing many essential smartphone tasks, such as messaging and calling.

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24 Comments

1. Freeza

Posts: 95; Member since: Apr 03, 2016

These wearables are not that appealing in the first place. I still prefer my Tissot or Casio over any smartwatch.

3. GreenMan

Posts: 2697; Member since: Nov 09, 2015

Yes, Casio's famous G-Shock Digital watches are smart enough for me...!!! Date, Day, Alarm, Dual Time, Stopwatch, countdown timer and most importantly; they are EXTREMELY durable, tough and their cells last a TON of years!!! With that being said; I'd love to see how Casio tackle this smartwatch 'craze' as it's THE KING of digital watches and other wearables, including calculators!

25. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

I agreed the Casio g shock is the beast of watches I've got my few have!! And yes very durable i surf all the time and yep, they hold up strong, i still have the original yellow g shock from 1982 from gemco Dept store lol my older brother gave it to me he knows i like my casios but my apple I watch had issues at first but works fine, apple worked all the kinks out..

2. Kumar123 unregistered

Smarwatches are still long way to go. Even the best smartwatch is still mediocre at best.

14. ECPirate37

Posts: 331; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Why mediocre? I think the Huawei Watch is great. Are there things I'm still wanting it to do? YEP! But, it is far better than mediocre. Here are a few examples: Pandora (or whatever one may use): When I am walking down the streets of New York, unlike most New Yorkers, I keep my phone in my pocket. While listening to Pandora, I can skip songs, or change volume from my wrist. Google Maps: Same thing, I travel all over the city for work. I can locate places on my watch, and never have to pull my phone out. Also a good thing in some of the neighborhoods I visit. haha Netflix, Hulu, any other chormecast: I can control it from my watch. That way I can charge my phone in the evening, and don't have to keep getting up to change things. (That one is probably not that big a deal). Fitness monitoring: I like that it shows me exactly how far I've walked each day, and shows me the map. I KNOW that my phone can do the same thing, but when I run out to get lunch, or visit the bodega, I may not take my phone tethered to my watch with me. I usually only carry my work phone for those 30 minutes or so. I can answer/place calls from my wrist. That may sound dorky, tacky, etc., but since I work from home a lot of days, and I don't keep my phone near me. So a quick swipe on my wrist works fine for most calls. I also always keep my ringer on silent, because having it wring at work is a HUGE no-no. Now I can get a vibration on my wrist to let me know someone is calling. Checking gmail from my wrist to see if it is important or not is a time saver. Another one that might not be a big deal, my contact info is on my wrist via QR code. If I'm out and meet someone, I can in 2 seconds or less have my "business card" out for them to scan and get my info. Most people probably don't need that, and QR code aren't that big here in the States, but in China they are HUGE. My Huawei P9 has QR code reading built in. Being able to link quickly is clutch. and finally: Writing people on my wrist really isn't that bad. WeChat seems to be the most integrated to AndroidWear, but i'm sure in time others will get better. I've carried on whole conversations effortlessly without once pulling my phone from my pocket. Now I DO hope that as androidwear matures (I'm running 2.0 right now), it will offer more functionality, but I find what it does now to be above mediocre. Of course we are all entitled to our opinions. I'm curious as to what you would like to see to make them more than mediocre.

17. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

He was speaking from a non-ownership perspective. lol

32. ECPirate37

Posts: 331; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Agreed. haha I do think there should be better marketing explaining what they can (and maybe can't) do. I only wanted this one because it is a beautiful watch, and I liked the idea of having new watch faces. I used to wear the fossil watch that had two faces depending on the button press. haha I figured I would use some of the features, but I use it a lot more than I thought. When it was given to me as a gift, there is no way I could say no. And I've been happy ever since. Before this watch, I hadn't worn one in over 15 years.

18. krystian

Posts: 423; Member since: Mar 16, 2016

I just don't like wearing something on my wrist and know many people who don't. Fitbit I guess works for some because it has a tiny footprint, but I would prefer something like a ring that projects holographic images haha. Like Green Lantern. :D

22. willard12 unregistered

..whhich prompts the question of are many of the people who don't like smart watches really just people who don't like watches in general?

4. surethom

Posts: 1691; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

The easy way to make smartwatches work is with a transparent screen (Hybrid) like the Kairos Hybrid Watch this way you can check the time easy & with out the glare of a screen but then also have Android wear display when it needs too.

6. xondk

Posts: 1904; Member since: Mar 25, 2014

Seems spot on with my expectations, yes they can 'do' a lot, but I can't for the life of me see all those things they can 'do' being something i'd use in day to day life, especially when I can just pull out my smart phone, notifications and such, sure, the way pebble does it, but that's it.

7. Charlie2k

Posts: 130; Member since: Jan 11, 2016

Strange article. When anything good is written about smartwatches there is ALWAYS a big picture of a Apple Watch and an explanation on how well it's selling. When... like this article about how much people that have actually bought a smartwatch is disappointed not a single picture of an Apple Watch. Especially since Apple Watch is the number one phone least amount of features. No gps, very short battery life and so on.

8. DRS1977

Posts: 679; Member since: May 27, 2015

Most of this is due to the Apple watch, huge disappointment.

10. tedkord

Posts: 17356; Member since: Jun 17, 2009

They're a novelty. Maybe someday someone will figure out a use that makes them compelling, but right now it's just not there.

11. Darkkracker

Posts: 255; Member since: Jun 11, 2016

I am opposite I guess. I have used both the Hawaii watch and and I watch and found them extremely useful. I drive a lot for my job and have come to count on a smart watch for all sorts of things. Guidance, answering calls, sending short texts. I use it at home for alarms, timer for cooking and constantly looking at the weather. I cannot imagine going back to a dumb watch.

12. Crispin_Gatieza

Posts: 3137; Member since: Jan 23, 2014

I was very skeptical about smartwatches when they first came out. I couldn't imagine how they could be useful until I was "given" a company truck to drive home. Going from a Hummer to a plain-Jane Ranger is not fun when you're getting dozens of phone calls and a torrent of emails. Enter the Band 2. Now I can drive and glance at my wrist to see who's calling, get my email preview and use Cortana to send texts. I'm convinced now.

26. deviceguy2016

Posts: 826; Member since: Jun 16, 2016

They are handy i agree just to look real fast, instead of putting a device in my face while driving a watch is easier than respond later, at first i wasn't sure but i agree smart watches are handy but only use if driving just to see who calls etc. but answer with hands free on stereo in my truck.. To risky using a device in my face!! Never fails someone hits the breaks using a device held!!

15. ECPirate37

Posts: 331; Member since: Jul 14, 2011

Did I mis-read the article, or is it saying a lot of the dissatisfaction (read: expecting more) is coming from the fitness tracker market? That would make sense to me. If that is all my watch did I would be very disappointed too. Luckily, I bought a watch that does a lot more.

19. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The problem with most smartwatches is simple. Most just mirror data your phone already gets and requires you to be connected to your phone to work. This is a con of all but 2 and both are from Samsung. However Samsung's original gear is just like what everyone is selling now and they had it 2 years ago. By now some of these cash cows like Apple, should have had a better options. To come 2/3 years later with something I had 2 years ago is a waste of time. I would rather in Apple's case, have just delayed the Apple Watch until they had a much better option to release. Taking fitness bands off the table, smartwatches are 99.9% useless. The only use I've gotten that was a benefit is, when I co cycling, I dont have to carry my heavy phone. I can just copy some tunes to the watch and use my wireless earphones, and still get all my calls and text messages. The next main downside is dev support. Most of the apps bring no uniqueness to the phone. I can already get messages, weather and social media stuff on the phone. I can get directions on my phone too. The watches need features that i won't say my phone can't do, but apps I would rather install on the watch for specific info I want to see, without needing it to be on my phone too. I want to have standalone features, that are unique to the watch itself, that provide a benefit to me on the go. Location data for example. When I am out riding and I'm in a new location, I want data like nearest bike shop, or a place to eat. I cant get this data unless I am connected to my phone with the watch. The watch in my case has 4G, has wifi. So it shopuld be able to pull its own data without it needign to hit the phoen first. Samsung IMO, all but has abandoned the original Gear S, and they havent brought much to the Gear S2 either. Devs haven't either and that si why this is a boring lame stupid platform that isnt worth its cost to enter. Even though I have found a nice use for the device, it isn't worth $300. I wont be buying another until the device is fully independent of the smartphone, I need to be able to directly install apps to it without using a phone, I want to transfer media to it without using a phone (which the original Gear S allowed), and I will no longer pay for any one of them if the price is above $200. None of them are worth more than $150 tops. No matter what they do or what brand.

24. Plutonium239

Posts: 1214; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

The Microsoft Band 2 and original band, both mirrors data from your phone and measures your heart rate throughout the day and your sleep(in the case of the band 2, it can also measure your UV exposure, and floors climbed). I love my band 2 and I loved my band 1.

27. TechieXP1969

Posts: 14967; Member since: Sep 25, 2013

The Gear S2 offers this and so does the Gear S.

30. Plutonium239

Posts: 1214; Member since: Mar 17, 2015

The gear S's don't have UV tracking and are more expensive. Not to mention their compatibility is limited to samsung galaxy phones.

20. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

My girlfriend got me a cheap smartwatch off Amazon during the holidays to try out before I went and paid a few hundred dollars on a more expensive watch. It's a cheapo watch, but it does the majority of things ECPirate 37 describes in post #14. For 6 months now I've hardly taken it off my wrist. It could use some UI refinements (it doesn't use Android Wear but is pairable with Android and iOS devices via Bluetooth), but it's been useful enough for me to consider paying for a more expensive watch like the Huawei Watch. For anyone on the fence, take a look at one of those $60-$75 dollar (I have the No.1 Sun S2... yeah yeah, doesn't sound like much does it?) smartwatches before dishing out $350 for a big name brand.

28. jeroome86

Posts: 2314; Member since: Apr 12, 2012

My co worker got suck into a Gear s watch. Think he said has its on number. Heck with that crap. My Casio gets the job done. Gets a little better battery life too. About 10 years to the Gear's 1 day. He don't wear it now because he crack the screen on a rack at work. Ugh. Expensive.

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