Wozniak says he loves the idea of a smartwatch and bought the £300 Samsung Galaxy Gear, released in September 2013, to try out Android-based smartwatches. Despite his love of Google’s Android software and his view that Apple should release an Android smartphone, Wozniak’s experience of the device was poor.
“That was the only technology I bought to experiment with that I threw out after half a day, sold it on eBay because it was so worthless and did so little that was convenient,” Wozniak said of the Galaxy Gear talking to Xconomy at the Flying Car conference in Milwaukee last week. “You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff.”
Smartwatches need bigger screen
Wozniak believes that smartwatches will not be useful until the screens get bigger than the current sub-two-inch screens currently available on smartwatches from LG, Samsung and Pebble. He previously suggested that plastic folding screens may be the answer, but the technology to make folding screens practical for consumer gadgets has not yet been proven.
“I want my smartphone [on my wrist], but I really want the whole thing,” said Wozniak. “I don’t want just a little Bluetooth connection to the smartphone in my pocket because then it’s just an intermediary, an extra thing I buy to get what I already have and have to carry anyway.”
His comments reflect a trend seen in the adoption of wearable technology by consumers. Around 40% of UK consumers ended up abandoning them because they got bored with the idea or simply forgot to put them on, according to research by CCS Insight. Fewer than half a million smartwatches were in use in the UK by March this year, according to data from research company KWP ComTech.
The story is similar in the US. One-third of American consumers have also stopped using a smart wearable device within six months of purchase according to data from Endeavour Partners.
Like unripened fruit
Samsung admitted its Galaxy Gear smartwatch was not up to scratch, likening it to an unripened fruit, before replacing it with the Gear 2 smartwatch that abandoned Google’s Android for the Korean manufacturer’s own Tizen software, which was later pushed to the older Galaxy Gear.
Google recently unveiled a series of smartwatches – including the Samsung Gear Live – based on new Android Wear software, which simplifies the experience and leverages Google’s notification system and intelligent digital assistant Google Now.
Google hopes that the new software can make smartwatches compelling for consumers, offering more information in a just-in-time fashion and avoid the abandonment issues seen by most of the other smart wearable devices.
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