The Next Big Thing: Smartwatches

With worldwide smartphone penetration crossing the 1 billion mark, and smartphones overtaking feature phones in worldwide sales for the first time in 2013, you will agree with me that these devices have indeed come of age.

The bad news is that after quantum leaps in innovation from this (Nokia Communicator 9000):

nokia communicator

to this (iPhone 5) :


smartphone innovation in hardware seems to have plateaued. Sorry folks, but it seems like henceforth, all we can expect from Apple and Samsung are thinner phones with bigger screens and better cameras. The good news is that with growth slowing in the $358 billion smartphone market, the hunt has already begun for the next big thing: a new “screen”. This screen will not sit in your living room, neither will it be carried around in your backpack or pocket; it will be strapped to your arm.

I must confess I was initially quite skeptical about smart watches. In my mind, watches are just too dumb and too small to do anything cool. Once I came in contact with the Pebble, a smart watch created by a startup, my skepticism faded quickly. The video below provides a good window into the potential of this awesome device:

After my Pebble encounter, I am glad to say that I have become a big believer in smart watches becoming a significant driver of the next wave of technology innovation. This leads to the billion dollar question: who will dominate this emerging category? Is it a smartphone incumbent like Apple or Samsung, a smart watch first mover like Sony or a late underdog like Pebble. What do you think?


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