Attack of the killer smart watches

Rumors would have you believe that no fewer than four companies are busily readying smart watches for public consumption. Problem is, the public hasn't asked for them.

First came the smartphone, and now comes the smart watch. The smart watch is a wristwatch that connects to your smartphone to present pertinent information so you don't have to take the phone out of your pocket. Because, you know, it takes a lot of effort to pull your phone out of your pocket.

Image: ZDNet/James Kendrick

The speculation about an Apple smart watch, already referred to as the iWatch, has been running rampant for a while. Like all such rumors about Apple, there is absolutely no proof that the company will produce and release a watch to the market. But they have 100 people working on it, if you believe the rumors.

Just the thought of an iWatch sets the competition trembling, so other companies are reportedly working on watches to take on the iWatch. That's telling, given that the iWatch doesn't exist. These aren't little companies either; so far, Samsung, Google, and LG are allegedly working on watches to compete with the magical watch that, again, doesn't exist.

If that's true, then we may soon have the iWatch, gWatch, sWatch and the lgWatch. That's a lot of smarts on people's wrists.

All of this hoopla about smart watches is kind of silly. There are already several smart watches on the market, and consumers aren't exactly lining up at the stores to get one. In fact, I'm not sure there is a market for a smart watch.

The last thing that most consumers want is a watch they have to remember to plug in to charge.

Look around and you notice something that flies in the face of the smart watch concept. The smartphone has largely replaced the watch for many consumers. If they want to know the time, they look at their phone. It's always right there on the home screen. A watch is nowhere to be found.

Sure, the smart watch will eliminate that tiresome need to pull out the phone to get the time. It can even give you the weather, show you email, present text messages — the works. All without pulling your phone out of your pocket.

But that isn't a big benefit to most folks. Look around — how many people do you see walking around with their smartphone in their hand? More than a few, I'll bet. Quite a lot do it, actually. So these folks have absolutely no need for a smart watch, as they always have their smartphone in their hand, showing them all the smartphone information. Now they're supposed to pay extra for a smart watch to also show it to them?

Smart watches are cool, but is the mass market itching for them? I don't think so. The last thing that most consumers want is a watch they have to remember to plug in to charge. How would they get the information they need with a dead watch? Oh yeah, that phone thing.

Don't get me wrong, I am enough of a geek to like smart watches. I've been playing with them for years, most recently with the MetaWatch I recently reviewed . But I'm not exactly the mass market that the product will require to make it big.

When I show the smart watch I'm wearing to regular consumers, I get the obligatory "that's cool" response. Not a single person has ever said that they want one, though, and that's telling.