Google’s Android Wear overhaul offers lots of improvements and new features to the platform, unless you’re one of the early adopters.
Some of the first smartwatches like the Moto 360 will not be getting this or any future software upgrades. With many devices less than two years old, the death knell comes with their lack of key technologies like cellular connectivity, NFC, or older processors. But there’s a bigger problem than simply old technology, and its pervasive across all wearables; hardware companies including the likes of Apple, Google and Samsung aren’t adequately aligning their products to specific markets.
With any new product segment, the key factors beyond performance and desirability have to do with the relationship between brand and consumer. When not addressed, you can expect the lackluster adoption that’s currently taking place in the smartwatch industry.
TRUST | VALUE | EMOTION
Situations like Android Wear open the door for consumers to doubt every future purchase.
The same can be said for any product or service that promises long-term value and doesn’t deliver. The consumer makes a decision not based on a company’s promises, but by how much they trust the brand to deliver on those promises. The consumer is investing in the idea that the product will continue to give them value, whether it be through utility, delight, or likely a combination of both. Doing so has been easier said than done, the culprit oftentimes being the breakneck speed of technological progress.
Trust in a product’s continued performance is important, but pales in comparison to the consumer’s trust in the brand, specially considering the speed of technological progress. Consumers make decisions with the understanding that, while software is continually evolving, hardware has a shelf-life. But brand loyalty, fostered by the company’s mission, alignment of values, and consistent positive experiences, supersede any one product’s success. The customer-company relationship that results can be a lifelong, a timeframe that seems like an eternity in today’s volatile marketplace.
Conversely (and likely to be the case with Android Wear early-adopters), if consumers get the impression they’re being sucked into the upgrade-cycle, the trust in that company can give way to the countless competitors vying for attention.
The wristwatch is a timeless accessory because it represents craftsmanship, dependability, and an emotional bond .
One of the beautiful aspects of the wristwatch is its longevity. If maintained properly, a well-built watch can last generations. Old watches have been passed down, inherited, gifted, and revered.
Fast forward to the smartwatch era. Costing hundreds of dollars, their function is largely degraded the moment the device is no longer supported; it’s performance and value ALWAYS falling to zero, with no bond left between device and consumer.
COST / LONGEVITY = VALUE
Almost any device or or product’s value can be determined by the combination of two key metrics: cost and longevity.
Amazon’s (losing) gamble on the Fire Phone and (winning) forays into the tablet and T.V. spaces were not about technological innovation, but rather creating an ecosystem of devices that fully utilized Amazon’s vast supply-chain of physical products and digital content. Selling a tablet (or even a six-pack) for almost nothing is an investment on Amazon’s part and a win for consumers, making technology accessible and building a community that reinforces the brand.
Costing around half the price of the average smartphone, with new but limited functions, and the inevitable prospects of becoming outdated, the high cost, and low longevity equal low value.
For consumer’s potential emotional bond with devices, look no further than the smartwatch’s confusing cousin: the fitness tracker.
Fitbit’s the most pervasive wearable for a reason. Their market is essentially anyone who is active or aspires to be more active. Sure, that’s just about everyone, but the point is the devices, software, interface, and platform all do their part to fulfill the same goal: healthier, happier users.
For millions of people, tracking of steps is the foundation of a daily ritual that rewards activity and fuels competition, and perhaps at a subconscious level, the device is partially tied to the resulting happiness. The always-on progress bar, or the daily snapshot of progress, develop a habit that makes the device indispensable. Wearable-makers will surely come out with newer devices with improved capabilities, but even the first models will work until the hardware fails, not as a result of software no longer operating. Devices are a dime a dozen, indispensable ritual is the holy grail.
Sometimes the best products fail and the average products succeed
When it comes to emerging technology, startups and mega companies alike are forging ahead, realizing products that augment the world in exciting ways, and yet many game-changing products fail to convert the critical-mass needed to thrive in today’s super competitive market.
It’s easy to forget that the target market is comprised of humans, with unique needs, wants, and desires. Understanding those characteristics can be the difference needed to convert even the most indifferent consumer to the fiercest advocate for your company.
Launching a product or business? Check out our "Accelerating Product-Market Fit" Workshops.