Just a couple of years ago, you could have declared the wearables market dead and you wouldn’t have been too far from the truth. However, smartwatches have had quite the revival recently, with sales in the US alone growing more than 50%. Yet, to me, it seems that they owe their success more to fashionable design than they do to innovation features. Is the new motto of smartwatches ‘from over function’, and what does that mean for the industry?
If we are to look at the wearable market as a whole, there is so much variety that it’s easy to get lost in the sea of options. Fitness tracker, smart bands, smartwatches, ‘dumb watches’ with some smart function and so on. Some are tailored to runners, some to swimmers and others to fashionistas. Yet, almost all of these smart accessories seems to offer the same functions that have become staples by now: some level of water resistance, a heart rate monitor, step tracking, GPS and NFC. Even the specs are almost the same across the board. So how do brands stand out from the crowd? Design of course.
While fitness bands market themselves on their practicality and affordability. They usually use cheap, but durable materials, smartwatches are increasingly becoming luxury products. Of course, watches have been used as a status symbol for centuries, so it should come as no surprise that fashion brands with zero to no tech experience like Michael Kors, Emporio Arman, and Louis Vuitton are now rushing to introduce ‘connected watches’ with intricate and stylish design.
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Of course, the Louis Vuitton is one of the more extreme examples, as its price exceeds that of most current flagship smartphones, Michael Kors Access Runway, for example, has a much more modest price of $ 350. It is a premium looking smartwatch, which offers the typical stuff-accessing your notifications quickly, Google Assistant, setting reminders and contactless payments.