By Adam Dickter / CIO Today. Updated November 29, 2013.
Tablets are so 2012. iPods are obsolete. Nearly everyone has upgraded their smartphones, and Google Glass isn't yet widely available. So what's the tech-savvy gift-giver to do for holiday shopping in 2013? A timely solution may be at hand.
Wearable tech may be the biggest trend this year, and smart watches are at the forefront, with versions in the works from Acer, Apple, BlackBerry, Google, LG, Microsoft, Qualcomm, Sony, and Toshiba. Samsung launched the Galaxy Gear, which works in tandem with smartphones and tablets running Google's Android 4.3 operating system, in early September in Berlin. But it was widely received as a work in progress.
The Pebble smartwatch also launched in September and is now being offered for Black Friday with a $20 discount off its usual $149.99 price, when purchased directly from GetPebble.com. The Pebble is also available from Amazon.com, BestBuy and AT&T.
Solid As a Rock?
The Pebble smartwatch connects via Bluetooth 4.0 to both iOS and Android-powered smartphones and allows wearers to interact with apps without touching their phones. It's great for cold weather when the phone is in your pocket, or for joggers.
Or, as Pebble suggests, it can let you know who's calling so you don't have to take out your phone during a meeting. It also lets you control music while driving without taking your hands off the steering wheel.
The water-resistant Pebble smart watch has a 1.26-inch, 144-168 pixel e-paper display with LED backlight and optical hard coating for scratch resistance. It packs an ARM Cortex-M3 processor with an 80 megahertz capacity and runs its own operating system, Pebble OS.
Pebble promises five to seven days of battery life, depending on usage, between charges via a USB connection.
Recent research suggests that consumers are intrigued by the idea of a smart watch. A survey commissioned by technology analyst Jessica Lessin earlier this month found that 38 percent of more than 400 participants said they liked the idea of a smart watch better than smart eyewear like Google Glass, which appealed to just 10 percent.
Too Soon To Tell
A majority, however, 45 percent, said they didn't like either. Lessin noted on her site that Apple's Next Big Thing is likely to be an iWatch, or whatever the Cupertino, Calif.-based tech giant decides to call it.
Another analyst, Jeff Kagan, told us that while smart watches are the newest gadgets to capture our attention in the tech aisle, it's too early to know if they'll be as big as tablets and smartphones, or flashes in the pan like netbooks.
Kagan points out that netbooks were quickly replaced by tablets like the iPad, and tablets continue to be a hit. "So far, I expect smart watches to continue rolling out over the next year or two or three." If they are successful, they will continue to evolve over time. If not, they're likely to simply fade away, much like the netbook category that came and went.
Kagan said it's likely smart watches will constitute some "slice of the consumer pie. The question is will that slice be big enough?"