The IoT gadget – today’s case: the smart watch (I)

Today I will talk about one device that tries to break through the ice: The smart watch. Is it a real new product or just a minimized version of the touch-screen phones. For personal reasons, I will not use the word smartphone. So what is so hot about the smartwatches. Or should I spell gadgetwatches… Little matters. They are real. I’ve used google to find five watches labeled as “smart”:

Let’s judge these products. First, we apply  the 4Ps  to each one of them
Criterium:  Price (base price)
 1) 200€
2) 190€
3) 70€
4) 80€
5) 60€
6) 140€
There are three categories: below 100€, up from 200€ and in-between. Given that some touchphones cost  less than 100€, the Samsung Galaxy Gear ranks as high end, while the to MyKronoz watches are low-end. Are they ?
Criterium : Promotion
Samsung has promoted on a decent level its watch. Sony follows up close. There is little promotion for MyKronoz products, while Nike promotes its product on a very reduced scale, in some outlets.
Definitely, a watch priced 200€ must sell or there is a problem. So Samsung makes substantial efforts. Maybe not enough. But it tries.
Criterium : Placement
1) The Samsung watch is a gadget for Samsung phones. It sells through the same channels as the phone and on Internet. Not bad.
2) and 4)  The Sony follows the same politics as Samsung.
3) and 5)  The watch is promoted on internet. Today internet is the single most important distribution channel, so why spend money on outlet display cases when there is no need? Well done.
6) Nike tries to hide the Fuelband. there is little information about the product and it sells only on internet and only on specialized sites.
Conclusion: the phone makers use traditional channels as well as internet, while the other companies use only internet.
Criterium : Product
This should be the most important of the criteria, but the price weights much and biases the choice. However, the products have been designated as smart watches, so we try to make  the ranking based on the product itself.
1) Samsung has presented the SSG as an extension for its line of touch devices ( phones and tablets). The theoretical user base is huge.  And The watch  is not just a watch. Practically, it has all the functions of the phone, even a camera and an audio  jack for earphones.  For a smart watch, it   has too many features for a screen so small. Playing videos  ? given the size of the screen, one should look weird when watching a movie. Subtitles ? forget them. One needs eagle eyes. And most people have fingers thicker than half the size of the screen. Samsung has forgotten the only interface available for a device so small: voice. But well, Samsung is known best for building Apple clones at a cheaper price. And this is a huge advantage when building its user base.
2) and 4) Sony tries to keep the pace with Samsung so there is little surprise. The line of watches is a complement to the Android phones. From this point of view, Sony supports Samsung.  The price is the single most important argument.  The integration with the social networks might help sell the two products. As of today, Sony is much, much behind Samsung.
3) and 5)  Are a very bold initiative. MyKronoz products connect to any Bluetooth-abled smartphone. This means it targets products from Samsung and Apple. And at such low prices, it hits hard.These underdogs might become a threat to Samsung. Unlike Samsung and Sony, MyKronoz offers only basic functions like call-management and music listening. however, these are the most important uses for a phone, so the small bracelet does well on its job.
6) The Fuelband connects to Bluetooth-phones. The  target being active people, the uses are restricted to fitness. The major drawback of the Fuelband is the lack of realism of a product with a well-designed form factor.
Criterium:  the design
1) Brushed metal  for the  device, plastic for the bracelet. The screen is 36x56mm. The form factor is similar to  the one of the  android tablets.
2) Plastic and metal rim for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Screen dimensions : 42x41mm. An ugly big square, bigger than most wrist watches.
3)  Plastic for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Dimensions: 38x80mm, but the screen is curved and it blends well onto the wrist.
4) Plastic and metal rim for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Dim: 36x36mm.
5) Plastic for the device, flat screen, plastic for the bracelet.  Dim: 38x80mm.
6) Plastic for the device, plastic for the bracelet. Little or no information available. however, the formfactor and the bracelet blend well onto the wrist.
For this criteria, there are only two products that have a good design: the ZeBracelet and the Nike Fuelband. The other products are more like the cheap Casio watches of the 80’s.  The plastic and metal mix is a poor choice for products
To be continued in a future article…

The next big thing (II)

The device is real. People use it. The drawback is the lack of API for it. I am confident that the scenario of the iPhone will repeat itself. The small device is capable of HD images, is small enough to fit into a pocket , weights 300g and coud be put anywhere. Yes, I am talking about AppleTV. It  is only a matter of time until this last brainchild of Steve Jobs will reach its full potential. Is there place for another device, next to iPhone, Macbook, iPad, iPod ? Yes it is. Just imagine playing Angry Birds on Apple TV using your hands and voice.  Is this a realistic scenario ? Yes it is. Should Apple release it ? Only if they really want the share to rocket by $1000. I’m not so sure about the last part. One thing is sure: wealth cannot come from lack of money. Wealth needs vision, long term plans and enthusiasm. These were thing Steve had. These the fuel of the engine that launched so many products. 

Finally, why have nice, useful things when we could still continue to use cheap black plastic computers or phones or game consoles. Have you noticed what  the XBox One and PS 4 are made of ? Really ? Do you like the design ? Cause I don’t. And Quality begins with the design. Aren’t Porche and Jaguar and Ferarri  the dream of any driver ? Why ? Because of engine’s Gigahertz frequency, RAM capacity ? no. Because of design. This is the fuel of the XXI century.


The next big thing

The iPod mini was the last big thing to step up. Yes, there have been many launches of similar products. Samsung tries very hard to create the next TV. Still, it doesn’t work. The problem is the same from the days before  the iPhone. There is a thick line between something really useful and  something that just works and makes bling-bling.

I have the firm conviction that we’ll see a new and revolutionary product in less than 12 months from now. Yes, before X-mass 2014, there will be something new.  And someone will be able to say:

“I have it in my backpack, but first let’s see. It is something revolutionary. It allows you to interact with your environment in natural ways. It is what you were expecting since your birth.  But first, is there possible to have such a product today, when we have these game consoles that recognize your movements. First, the above mentioned consoles aren’t so good at gesture recognition. You move too fast and the result is far from perfect. Too far. Yet you use these consoles. Do you like the experience ? No, but really are you satisfied by the experience of playing the last hit ?   Or when you speak, most of your words are misunderstood .

Well, today  I present you  three revolutionary products . A game console. A voice recorder with perfect recognition. A device capable of incredible accurate interactions. A console. A voice recorder. An interactive environment device. In fact it is a single product. Yes, I present you a game console with perfect voice and  gesture recognition. And we call it iPlay.”.

I am pretty sure that the next big thing will be about interaction. And were Steve Jobs still alive, this product would be the next big thing. Alas, today, the players in the field lack the necessary vision. But I am talking of 12 month of hard work. Who knows. Maybe, maybe, there is hope. Future will tell.