Speculation has been growing for a while now that Apple is working on some sort of smart watch, and while we still don’t know if or when that will be hitting store shelves, it’s clear that one of the company’s biggest rivals–Samsung–has such a product in the works. In a recent interview, Samsung EVP of mobile Lee Young Hee told a Bloomberg reporter that the Korean electronics maker has been working on a watch “for so long” (he didn’t give any details on its capabilities, availability, or price, though).
In theory, the idea of a wrist-worn gadget that does many of the things we can now do on smartphones and tablets (view and answer calls, see e-mails and status updates, check location, control tunes) is cool. I like it. It sounds useful. And it’s clear that there is an audience for such a device: the Pebble e-paper watch made a killing on crowd-sourced funding site Kickstarter, bringing in $10.3 million from nearly 69,000 backers–a group that included several of my friends.
But I’m not convinced smart watches will be a mass-market gadget, at least not in the short term, unless the companies behind them can come up with compelling new features that enable us to overlook how annoying these devices will be. For me, part of the beauty of having a smartphone is that it’s not strapped to my wrist, and I can see it when I want it, or ignore it if I don’t. With a gadget on my arm that replicates a number of these functions, I’d have to pay even more attention to every call, e-mail, and tweet. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. Even if it could do things our iPhones and Android smartphones can’t yet do, or do well, it would still have to be pretty amazing for me to be convinced to strap it on my arm each day.