The Wearable Landscape pre-Apple Watch

While the current wearables landscape is a story of slow convergence over the last 18 months, each device has clearly evolved from one of two origin approaches: activity/fitness tracker or smartwatch.

Activity Trackers

no notifications

Hybrid Activity Trackers

also do notifications

Smart Watches

no activity tracking

Hybrid Smart Watches (also do activity tracking)

also do activity tracking

What happens to the overall landscape when the Apple Watch lands? Will everyone scramble to make a :scare: me too :/scare: product like we saw with the iPhone; ignoring any advantages they have with their current products? Or will we continue to see different sub-categories with various trade offs (given today’s technical limitations)?

Take the BlackBerry as an example. Today it’s a punchline, but when the iPhone was released it was a very popular device that had two features that the iPhone didn’t: a physical keyboard and a several day battery life. Instead of playing up those strengths, BlackBerry scrapped everything to chase the iPhone’s touchscreen (and has been circling the drain ever since).

Curious about what wrist notifications would be like, I picked up a Pebble at the beginning of the year. I like wrist notifications. I miss stuff when my phone is in my pocket and sometimes it’s important. Notifications are the main reason I recently replaced my Fitbit One with a Garmin Vivosmart.

I’m also struggling to fully understand the Apple Watch. There is a lot we still don’t know about it, but we do know that it’s big and bulky and that the battery life probably isn’t going to be great. Contrast that with one of today’s activity bands that get about a week of use on a single charge1 and provide health tracking and smart notifications, albeit with a screen that isn’t remotely close to what was shown in the Apple Watch.

Will Apple be able to change the entire landscape again just by entering it or will the other players continue to make differentiating products? I’m curious to find out.

  1. I just charged my Garmin this morning, it had been 8.5 days since the last charge.