The smartwatch: Tomorrow's must-have gear or a waste of time?

Moderated by Larry Dignan | February 17, 2014 -- 07:00 GMT (23:00 PST)

Summary: With smartwatches wrangling for the spotlight at next week's Mobile World Congress, our debaters consider the prospects for this wearable technology.

Matthew Miller

Matthew Miller

Must-have gear

or

Waste of time

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

Best Argument: Must-have gear

19%
81%

Audience Favored: Waste of time (81%)

Closing Statements

Tomorrow's must-have gear

Matthew Miller

It seems that the people have clearly spoken when it comes to smartwatches, even when I was arguing for them as tomorrow’s must-have gear.

I find my Pebble to be a solid companion to my smartphone that adds efficiency to my life, but you really must try using one before completely judging them. At their current prices, I don’t think people are willing to give them a try and it is going to take someone like Apple to see if there really is a market for the smartwatch.

When Apple launched the iPad there wasn’t much of a tablet market and now the iPad and Android tablets sell quite well. When I take an honest look at my Pebble, there really isn’t a ‘killer’ must-have application so until there is something that really demands a smartwatch be present I will concede that they are not today’s must-have gear. However, they could be tomorrow’s must-have gear, as I argued.

Soon to be forgotten

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes

There's no doubt that smartwatches are going to hit the market this year. The question is whether they will be a hit, and right now, given what I've seen so far in the form of the Pebble and the Galaxy Gear, they seem to be little more than a second screen for the smartphone, and this means that they are dispensable. 
 
I want to live that dream of having a smartwatch that James Bond or Dick Tracy would have been proud of, but I don't see either of these giving the smartwatch of 2014 a second glance. 
 
Unless Apple gets into the game, I predict that the smartwatches of 2014 will be languishing in a drawer along with other forgotten kit before the year is out.

Tomorrow, yes. Today, too early

Larry Dignan

To me, the cast of smartwatches is mediocre to boring at best. However, it's hard to make the case that they will be soon forgotten. Matthew Miller made his point the best, but the real reason he won is because he was arguing for "tomorrow's" must have gear.

Today, forget the smartwatch because it's too early. With refinement, the smartwatch can be viable. Miller stopped short of convincing me the devices will be must have, but did well enough to trump Adrian Kingsley-Hughes by a bit.

Talkback

32 comments
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  • Hard to say - needs a killer use case scenario.

    Hard to say - just like the 3D printer, it needs a killer use case scenario in order to really become mainstream. If there's some real, legitimate use for most people, sure - why not?

    BUT - if nobody hits the jackpot with a good way for most people to use it, it remains a geeky toy.
    CobraA1
    Reply 72 Votes I'm Undecided
    • if you actually study smartphone usage as they are used

      You would find they are a waste of time for most people. so yeah, a smartwatch will be a waste of time too.
      greywolf7
      Reply 100 Votes I'm Undecided
    • I'm with you on that note

      Have tried off and on watches with "features" going back to the calculator watch days. In the end I always go back to a "regular" watch. Have a couple of Eco's now.
      Battery, durability, viewability, and just plain "tell time" have always come up short in these gimmicks. Trendy with no real long term useful benefit.

      Wait and see. I'm just a tad doubtful though.
      rhonin
      Reply 107 Votes I'm Undecided
    • 3D printing is at least unique

      3D printer has a purpose, what purpose does any smartwatch have besides relay information that you already have on your smartphone? Most people have their phone some place to retrieve quickly if not always in their hand already.
      new gawker
      Reply 85 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Killer use case scenario: day-to-day life, everyday "pings"

      Most smartphone usage could be argued as being "in-n-out", you get a ping so you need to check what it was, evaluate it's importance (does it deserve a response or immediate attention?) and back out into the real world to continue whatever you were doing.

      Other times, you seek out information, like if you're tracking the time it takes to complete a task and you want to check the time of the stopwatch, or if somebody mentions "the email they sent you" and you want to rebut immediately, or if you want to check who that voicemail was from while someone's talking to you without being too blatantly rude.

      Put on that thinking cap and get creative with it, there's literally a million and one things that can be done with it. Some things are still limited by the hardware and these early versions of software for it.
      gmoney1911a3
      Reply 55 Votes I'm Undecided
  • The smart watches are desidedly guy's toys

    How about the other half of the population?
    As it stands now, they are way too ugly for the mainstream adoption.
    Smart watches can not succeed if they are geared exclusively for middle-aged men.
    ForeverSPb
    Reply 64 Votes I'm for Waste of time
    • hmm...

      that is not stopping jewelers to make jewelry that is exclusively for women or cars that are exclusively for men or women. I am sure there will be version of smartwatches that are fashionable and would appeal to women.

      I am with Adrian on this.
      pupkin_z
      Reply 72 Votes I'm Undecided
    • .....

      I cant even see men wearing these since majority of men do not wear watches anymore or if they do they wear distinctive classy watches not a digital rubber made band that looks like a dork and cost $500
      Fletchguy
      Reply 80 Votes I'm Undecided
    • Smart watches can not succeed if they are geared exclusively for middle-age

      Nonsense. Many, many expensive things are geared exclusively toward middle-aged men.
      Retterdyne
      Reply 83 Votes I'm Undecided
  • They are running out of things to sell us.

    It's that simple. As PC's, Tablets, and Smartphones reach the saturation point, tech companies are looking for something else to get us to spend our money on.

    Sorry folks watches ain't it. In fact who the heck even wears watches anymore? Most people are walking around with micro computers in their pockets these days, that can take HD photos and videos, keep people connected to their various networks and even replace laptops. What does the smart watch have to add to the equation? I can't see myself browsing my Kindle selection on a watch.
    mikedees
    Reply 66 Votes I'm for Waste of time