Guest Post: Superfluous technology – the smartwatch

Everything you ever imagined and nothing you really want
by Dr Robert Passikoff, president, Brand Keys

The comedian, Lewis Black, got it right –  ”This new millennium sucks! It’s exactly the same as the old millennium. You know why? No flying cars!” OK, to be fair, there are folks currently working on that, but true, not the sky-scape envisioned by science-fiction writers and comic book artists. On the other hand, technology has focused on loftier heights – if not precisely the sky.

Follow consumer expectations

As brand consultants, we look to consumer expectations to point clients in the right direction.

Year after year consumer expectations get higher and higher in nearly every category and, as independent validations have proven, brands that better meet consumer expectations always see better results.

“Wearable computing will eventually become an expectation”

The thing about consumer expectations is that they are mostly emotionally driven; are usually something that consumers can’t easily articulate; and are different from imagination.

And, if you want to identify where you should be digging for brand gold, you really need to know how to measure expectations.

This has been particularly obvious in the tech arena.

No consumer anywhere ever thought, “Can you just imagine a mobile hone with a built-in camera?”

(BTW, the ‘need’ did show up in expectations as an increased desire for personal connectivity …. but not something stamped, “Insert Camera Here.”)

But, as we’ve seen over the past five years, technology marches (and marches) on.

And haven’t you occasionally marveled at it and thought, “What can’t these guys do?”

Today, apparently, if they can imagine it, they can do it. The ultimate question is. “should they?”

Ready for smartwatches?

This thought occurred to us as more and more full-page ads have recently shown up for the newest early-adopter, geek must-have, wearable computing technology, AKA, smartwatches.

These apparently take all the functions of your smartphone and collection of apps and relocates them to your wrist.

The ones, currently with the largest ad budgets have been Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Sony’s SmartWatch2, although rumours abound regarding Apple and Google entries.

Feel free to check out the specs (or rumors) for each, but if your next thought/question was, “It’s very techy/nerdy/cool, but why do I need this?” – then welcome to the club.

Expectations – even those that seem totally unrealistic and unconstrained by reality, and that are indistinctly described in form and foundation – always reflect what people really want.

And sometimes – particularly as regards technology – the offerings are everything the sci-fi writers, imagined, but nothing that actually meets consumer real expectations.

Wearable computing will eventually become an expectation, but based on current consumer expectations, no time soon.

So technology brands beware – just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

Will smartwatches become as ubiquitous as smartphones? Maybe when cars fly!

Author biog

Dr Robert Passikoff is founder and president of Brand Keys. Dr Passikoff has 35 years of agency and client experience in all phases of strategic brand planning for a wide variety of B2B and B2C product and service categories. He has pioneered work in the area of loyalty and engagement, creating the Brand Keys Customer Loyalty Engagement Index, the Brandweek Loyalty Leaders List, the Sports Fan Loyalty Index, and the Women’s Wear Daily Fashion Brand Engagement Index.

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