Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

“Smart” Watches

Janko Roettgers, GigaOm:

At Google, WIMM’s employees are working with the Android team, which may seem natural since WIMM’s platform was based on Android, but it is actually a pretty good indicator of the role this acquisition is playing for Google. The company chose not to turn its smartwatch efforts into a Google X moonshot project that may take years to see the light of day, but instead brought it to the division that is making the world’s most popular smartphone operating system. In other words: In the nascent world of smartwatches, Google means business.

Between this, the forthcoming Samsung Galaxy Gear, the Pebble, and the various other watches out there, it seems a lot of companies are stepping up to try to create a smartphone for your wrist.

But, as I’ve said before, smart watches which are just a second screen for your smartphone don’t make much sense. In fact, most watches which are not analog are a hard sell. The largest group of people who wear watches these days do so for style; smartphones have replaced the need for a dedicated timekeeping device for most people.

Non-analog watches have never really caught on as a fashion item. Of the high-end watchmakers, Omega produces one of the few digital watches, and it’s simply an augmentation of an analog face. The challenge all of these “smart” watches need to overcome is to position them as a piece of both function and fashion, substance and style. WIMM’s first attempt, the One, is ugly, and when has Samsung ever produced a truly beautiful mobile product?

I don’t see how any of these watches are anything but the equivalent of a calculator watch for the twenty-first century. They’re not fashionable, and their function is — so far — largely made redundant because you must also carry a smartphone.