Pebble and other Smartwatch troubles

The last few days haven't been great for smartwatches in general. There were two pieces that were posted that bode bad news for the smartwatch segment, that too around the busiest holiday shopping season in the U.S. The first one was from TechCrunch, which reported that the smart watch maker Pebble is going to be bought out by the fitness tracker and more recently smartwatch maker, Fitbit for what apparently is a paltry amount of around $40 million. And worse, last year the same company got an offer for more than $700 million from a more traditional watch maker, Citizen. Ouch!

A source close to the company told TechCrunch that watch maker Citizen was interested in purchasing Pebble for $740 million in 2015. This deal failed and before the launch of the Pebble 2 Intel made an offer for $70 million. The CEO, Eric Migicovsky refused both offers. Our source said that Fitbit is now paying between $34 and $40 million for the company and is barely covering their debts.
— Via TechCrunch

Next piece of more bad news was reported today by The Verge on how Lenovo Moto, an Android smartwatch maker is going to stop making Android smart watches. 

Moto today confirmed that it will not be releasing a new smartwatch for the launch of Android Wear 2.0, due early next year. The company had earlier said it would not be releasing a new smartwatch in 2016, but it is now saying that it doesn’t plan to put out a new device timed to the arrival of Google’s newest wearable platform, either... Smartwatches, and Android Wear devices in particular, have lost a lot of their steam over the past year, as few companies have updated their products. Google itself delayed the launch of Android Wear 2 from this fall to next year.
— via The Verge

I have been skeptical of smartwatches right from their inception. The problem I had with them was a simple one. I din't feel that they were solving a problem or filling a void. It felt like since they could now make touch screens of small sizes and build powerful computers that were only coin sized, companies said, why not and started making them. This is totally true even for the Apple watch. And I'm not alone with this view. The Internet is full of bloggers and popular technology journalists who had tried using smartwatches and have given up using them, mainly because they had no use for them.

The Internet is full of bloggers and popular technology journalists who had tried using smartwatches and have given up using them, mainly because they had no use for them.
Apple Watch Series 2 got a lot of things right compared to the first generation Apple Watch (Image source: Apple.com) 

Apple Watch Series 2 got a lot of things right compared to the first generation Apple Watch (Image source: Apple.com) 

In my opinion, all the companies making smart watches need to take a break and decide what they want their smartwatches to do best, what one great utility the watch adds to the customers' lives. Apple sort of has learned this lesson, as evidenced from the Apple Watch Series 2 introduction. And Apple has decided to concentrate on the fitness and activity monitoring as the one big value the watch provides. For me personally this is very appealing,  as I have been looking for a smartwatch fitness tracker that actually works, for a while now.

I agree that Apple is long way from perfecting the Apple Watch for this purpose, but I think they're are on the right track. Steve Job's Apple would never add a new feature or make a new product, just because the technology existed and they could. His Apple would only adopt a new technology if it added significant value to their products or if It would be solving a problem for the customers. The smart watch makers need to take this concept to heart and go back to the drawing board, if they want the category to to survive and flourish. And always remember the capability doesn't mean necessity! 

And always remember the capability doesn’t mean necessity!