The Wearable Tech Threat

The Wearable Tech Threat

Recently I have been thinking a lot about the watch industry again. Do I want to get back in? If so, in what sort of position?
Part of this exercise has been to analyze the industry in its parts and as a whole. I’ll write further about my thoughts and I have touched on them in the past, but perhaps the biggest threat was not even on the horizon when last I was authoring this blog. It seems clear that wearable tech is going to be the next evolution of technology, and likely that it will be widely adopted.

Google Glass is already being tested by early adopters around the world. But the real interesting twist came a few weeks ago. Tim Cook, Apple CEO, gave an interview where he said:

“I see [wearables] as a very key branch of the tree.”

“I think the wrist is interesting. The wrist is natural.”

If a company like Apple were to make a must-have tech product that occupies wrist space, it could mean a truly abrupt end to the wrist-watch.

It may be hard to imagine right now, but think about how necessary it is in 2013 to have a smart phone. What if there were an iWatch that was just as necessary? An everyone-has-one type of device like the iPhone. Within a year or two, the watch industry would be decimated. The wrist watch would lose its real estate, just like the pocket watch lost its waistcoat.

I wouldn’t have seen this as a very real threat even a year ago. But when Tim Cook is making statements like that, you have to take notice. This could make the advent of the quartz watch look like a blip in the road. It would be a true extinction level event and it is right on the doorstep.

  • CaliforniaJed

    Extinction event? Maybe for some, but I don’t see true watch lovers ever forgoing a wristwatch for wearable tech. How many wrists do you have, Steve? 😉

    • I wrote this to someone on Facebook as well and it is applicable to your point, Jed: but think bigger. Of course history has proven that an electronic watch will not kill mechanical time pieces, but what if the wrist becomes the place for all of our tech. For example, what if iPhone 8 is a watch. If the choice becomes tech OR watch, tech is going to win that one resoundingly.
      Me personally, I do not think I would continue to wear a mechanical watch if there truly were a paradigm shifting device that occupied my wrist space.

  • BSDinSF

    That is a very astute observation, but I think the mechanical watch industry will nonetheless adapt. The interesting question is how.

    Remember when Ulysse Nardin tried getting into the smartphone space with the Chairman? That was an epic fail, but the idea may not have been completely insane, just poorly executed.

    I’m also seeing the industry and consumers warm up to technology in luxury timepieces – from the Urwerk EMC to Devon electro-mechanical watches to the HD3 Slyde (although the latter certainly will be eviscerated by the iWatch, and in fact was DOA given what a hacked iPod Nano can do). As these experiments continue a natural solution should evolve, however.

    Finally, it is important to remember that we’re fortunate enough to have two wrists.

  • george

    I am a gadget guy, I love my gadgets and love to find ways to keep things simple andless clutter, itouch wrist watch, wear it on your wrist , play games, video, netflix, gps,
    apps, wifi, bluetooth, sd, just think, less clutter in the car, wear it on your wrist.