Connected smartwatches were in full swing two years ago. But today, it is clear that the market is still looking for more and that the latest models proposed are few and very little innovative. So do you think are smartwatches just a temporary fashion effect?

The tablets had to change the world and especially our usages, but after having remained for a few years, they fell into a total disinterest of the public. The watches connected have for years left dreamers, but once arrived, the success was not at the rendezvous, the public being finally little receptive to the functionalities proposed.

Once again this year at the MWC, the trend has been confirmed: smartwatches do not evolve anymore while the market is very weak.

The first smartwatches

In the early 1980s, we saw the first unconnected intelligent watches, such as the Seiko Pulsar or the Casio Databank. In the early 1990s, the “sports watches” were introduced, offering a follow-up for all sportsmen.

It is at the same time that the first connected watches make their appearance, with the Seiko Receptor, but also the SPH-WP10 from Samsung. Then were chained models in the years 2000 until arriving in 2014-2015 with many actors, including Apple and its Apple watch.

A half-tone market

The Apple brand dominates the market quickly. It’s simple, in 2016, a connected watch sold was an Apple watch. The results held 49% of the market over the previous year. It should be noted, however, that Samsung is gradually gaining market share, which should improve. Indeed, the latest model of the brand, the Samsung Galaxy S3 Frontier under Tizen, the brand’s home OS, convinced us.

Also, Android watches could very soon catch up with the arrival of Android Wear 2.0, which also brings a small wind of freshness on products with autonomous applications, which makes it less dependent on its smartphone. The launch of this new smartwatch as well as the latest update arrived late and have not yet had any effect on the market.

Other actors also want to stand out, such as LG, which comes back strongly with the sport watch and watch style models, Tag Heuer, Xiaomi, which owns its own market, but also Fitbit, which embarks on adventure after buying Pebble If there is a will for some not to let go of this market, it must be admitted that the latter is not in its best light not to say in full collapse. Some players have withdrawn, like Sony or even HTC, which announced to have abandoned its project of a smart watch.

A lack of innovation?

We retain only two brands actually present at the MWC 2017. On one side LG and Huawei. If LG had not presented anything since the LG watch R, Huawei offers the direct continuation of its Huawei Watch. Nothing revolutionary from one model to another, they are at the level of appearances and functionalities in every point identical. The integration of a 4G chip with the possibility of integrating a nano-SIM has not completely convinced us for this iteration, especially since operators do not necessarily follow the rhythm to propose a second SIM.

Some time ago, watches flooded the stands of the salons and manufacturers came from all walks of life, but this year they were not very numerous at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona and above all, not very innovative either in design or functionality. We can, therefore, ask ourselves if this type of product has not reached its limits in terms of design and ergonomics.

And yet, on these last points, the smartwatches still have to evolve. Indeed, the interface is far from intuitive and asks to pull out its smartphone for the smallest action, like reading a complete notification and answering without losing patience. This is especially true for systems that do not offer keyboards like Android Wear 1.0. But side features, what could offer more such a small screen?

Its design could just as easily improve since it is still quite bulky. Heavy, thick and sometimes not very elegant, the watch connected is imposing and will have to count on the improvement of the capacities of the batteries. Indeed, this one has surely not yet been sufficiently improved to reduce the size of the watch. We can also expect the arrival in large numbers of flexible batteries that would leave the dial to graft on the bracelet.

Is there a real demand?

When asked about the connected watches, you were 40% to think that it is an optional gadget but pleasant, 23% to wait for it to mature, 20% to find it completely Unnecessary and only 15% of you say that it is an indispensable complement of the smartphone. If we summarize, connected watches are therefore not technological objects essential to everyday life, but still, have some interest that could gain importance in the future. Yes, but what could become indispensable?

There are a lot of connected objects around us: smartphones, tablets, bracelets, televisions, refrigerators, watches … The latter are trying to offer features that are increasingly close to the smartphone, even if they cannot replace it. The connected watch comes to supplement the smartphone for quick access to notifications or calendar and also fulfill the role of activity trackers. However, its functionality remains very limited so even if the object can be practical, it quickly becomes frustrating.

The game to bounce?

Some have however tried to vary or offer any other functions like a video game. Niantic confirmed in December 2016 that the Apple watch should very soon receive the game Pokémon Go. This would make it possible to meet without having to take out his smartphone, which would be convenient. On the program, Pong, Asteroids and even maybe Terraria. However, it is legitimate to ask questions about the comfort of play on such small screens on our wrist.

MWC 2017 not very encouraging

In any case, the small number of watches exhibited at the MWC speaks volumes about the current state of the market: the mainstream fashion effect seems to have passed, the new models have lost some appeal by proposing No real evolutions as if these objects had already reached their limits.

We are still waiting for the little revolution that will make this gadget come straight from our wildest science fiction dreams. It is not for immediate and manufacturers, big or small, prefer to play the safety and wait until the market is more mature to take real risks.