The rise of the smartwatch has got all the mobile makers of the world in something of a flurry. Just as the feature phone is now all but extinct, is the modern day mobile set to suffer the same fate at the hands of a wrist-worn wearable. Will the smartwatch kill the smartphone?
Essential reading: The world's best smartwatches
With both Intel and the Samsung Gear S showing that wearables can work entirely independently of the mobile in your pocket, we put the question to a pair industry experts as to whether this is the beginning of a trend that’s here to stay or just some devices attempting to differentiate themselves.
The man in charge of the ZenWatch project at Asus, CY, was the first in the Wareable interrogation room leaving Nicolas Olivier, CEO of Connected Device (the company behind the Cogito watches), sitting outside listening to the screams as he awaited his turn. You can read their confessions below.
CY - ZenWatch Project Leader, Asus
“The smartwatch won’t kill the smartphone. Smartwatches are still phone companions and I can’t see that there will be a trend to replace them. There are lots functions that still require a larger screen and larger computing powers.
“We believe that smartwatches will have more and more apps. Users will be able to customise their own watches and that’s only going to increase with Android Wear offering more app access through the Google Play Store.
“However, I do think smartwatches will end up being more independent, for sure. It’s definitely better for smartwatches to still have some kind of smart functions even when they’re disconnected to the phone. It’s important for them to have a purpose in their own right. A standalone smartwatch is good but a watch paired to a mobile is best.
"The interesting trend is that phones are getting bigger and bigger for more entertainment purposes while it’s the tiny, wearable, convenient size of the smartwatch that offers the benefits of instant information.
"Phone calls, playing games, browsing websites; they’re all important smartphone functions that are never going to be as good on a watch."
Nicolas Olivier - CEO of Connected Devices
"Wearables make better sense in so many situations – they are more convenient and more secure than many devices we carry. Some users will want full phone functionality on their wrists, but to have real, mainstream appeal, the smartwatch needs to complement the smartphone, not duplicate it.
"On the wrist, simplicity is important but that does not necessarily mean fewer features. Rather than pare down functionality, the smartwatch needs to get more personal with features to fit user lifestyle and reflect their priorities.
"Wearables also work with simple gestures; much simpler and faster than the complex motions of smartphones. They’ll also continue to work even in cases when the smartphone is broken, stolen, forgotten or has a dead battery.
"With Cogito, we see the watch as an ideal form factor for delivering essential notifications, at a glance, and sharing short messages. It's great for simple inputs, like remote camera control and remote triggers through IFTTT for web-enabled appliances. A smartwatch equipped for activity monitoring and contactless payment also makes good sense."
According to our industry experts smartwatches won't be taking over for the foreseeable future, at least. But if all that’s keeping the smartphone alive is a big screen for watching movies, then they might just be a projectable display or a pair of smartglasses away from being truly obsolete.