Recently we saw Google turn the world upside down by releasing Android Wear. The new platform for wearables gives us almost exactly what we wanted to see from a Google smartwatch, and we love it. But what does this new platform mean for current smartwatches? The new form factor has been growing over the past couple of years and they have been getting more and more popular thanks to options such as Pebble and the Samsung Gear. What is going to happen to them?
The Pebble was the first smartwatch that most people found functional and useful in their lives that did what they wanted it to do. While its a great device, it suffers from some limits. The primary limit is the e-ink display which is only grayscale in color. Meanwhile smartwatches powered by Android Wear have color displays. We don’t know how that will affect visibility in sunlight. That is one place the Pebble’s e-ink display has a huge advantage. Another place that the Pebble has a huge benefit is the fact that it is waterproof. Its unknown if any Android Wear devices will be waterproof, but speculation says that they will.
The Pebble has come a long way since its origins on KickStarter. Since then, we’ve seen the release of the second version of the Pebble dubbed Pebble Steel. This premium version is the one I think will truly suffer. Why? Because of its price point. At $249 the Pebble Steel isn’t going to appeal to many Android users because these Android Wear devices will most likely be more popular with those users. Even though iOS users will still be looking at the Pebble until the rumored iWatch is finally released, I don’t think the Pebble Steel will see much success unless they lower the price. In my honest opinion, I think the Pebble has a tough road ahead of it since Android Wear immediately made that device obsolete, at least for Android users.
Moving to another major player in the smartwatch space, the Samsung Gear. The Samsung Gear launched to mixed reviews. Some hated it, and some saw the potential in it, but few truly liked it. The original Galaxy Gear felt too unfinished and rushed. Samsung’s first attempt at the smartwatch wasn’t what we were asking for. The Galaxy Gear gave us interesting features, but it just didn’t seem ready. The software wasn’t quite right and the overall experience wasn’t very good. It didn’t do some of the basic things we wanted it too and the battery life was no where near what we expected. Samsung did fix many problems in a later software update, but that didn’t help the fact of the compatibly. Only working with a handful of phones is a major for the Gear. The new set of Gear devices also followed down that same path of only working with certain Samsung devices.
Other smaller smartwatch manufacturers are going to having an even harder time than the current major players. Of course Samsung is teamed up with Google for Android Wear which means they could soon release yet another Gear with Android Wear. Pebble is less likely to take that route, but we will have to wait and see what happens.
What do you think? Are other smart watches going to survive? Let us know in the comments.