Wearables: The Big Problem. Maybe Nearables?

Giles CrouchGuest Post: Giles Crouch is one of Canada’s leading thinkers on issues relating to our digital world including social media and civil society. He brings 20 years experience in the technology industry, including co-founding two software companies; a .com and a Big Data analytics firm.  You can connect with Giles on LinkedIn or Twitter.
So this week LG is expected to unveil a round smartwatch, one of only a couple in the round shape. Then there’s Ralph Lauren with it’s biofeedback golf shirt. But even Samsung can’t get people to wear smartwatches they give away. Sales of health monitoring devices like FitBit are middling at best. And Apple is widely expected to release their smartwatch this fall. The pundits and tech writers are all saying it’s because these manufacturers need to make these devices “indispensable” before they’ll be adopted. Perhaps in part. I think it’s something else altogether: behaviour.

The Behavioural Plateau

We’ve largely hit a big huge flat plateau when it comes to most tech hardware today. The only thing any tech pundit is hyped up about with Apple’s impending iPhone 6 release is a larger screen. That’s it. A 4.7″ screen. Not even big camera tweaks. Laptops are about as thin as they can comfortably be used. Tablets, same thing. All that’s left is storage, processor power, camera and display.

This all boils down to what I call the Behavioural Plateau. We’ve all made our choice about a device. Likely we have our phone/music/data device, our tablet and a laptop or desktop. The smartphone and tablet have less than a decade in consumers hands. So consumers are just getting caught up.

Consumers Aren’t Ready

I don’t think the majority of consumers are actually ready for wearables. There’s no compelling reason for most people. For hardcore technology users and knowledge workers, maybe more so. For most of the population? Nope.

It’s Time to Perfect the Software

Now consumers are adopting apps and services, getting comfy with the “Cloud.” The money over the next while is delivery of services and cloud-connected apps. Consumers need time with the vast amount of tools at their fingertips. We’ve never had this in the history of humanity.

The Market May Be Nearables

So it may be that it’s nearables and the “phygital” world that will be where the business opportunities will be more valuable for investors and startups in the next 5-7 years…but that’s another blog post.