Motorola says all smartwatches suck, and they have a point

by: Edgar CervantesMay 14, 2014
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360-moto

Motorola’s venture into the wearable market is not to be taken lightly. The MOTOACTV was one of the first major smartwatches, but its health focus kept it limited, resulting in an unsuccessful launch. Now they are back at it with the Moto 360, a device that took the smartwatch idea and literally turned it 360 degrees.

The Moto 360 is all but guaranteed to be a hit, and Motorola knows it. The company is so confident about their upcoming smartwatch that they have put every other competitor to shame!

[quote qtext=”We look at the 360 and we look at what everyone has done in that space. To be honest we think they are all pretty crappy.” qperson=”Mark Randall” qsource=”Motorola SVP of Supply Chain and Operations” qposition=”center”]

Those are some fighting words, Motorola! And to be honest, I could not agree more. Whether we like the Moto 360 or not, there is one fact we can’t deny – the smartwatch market is currently a failure. It’s a total mess, and this is due to multiple reasons.

360-2

Design

The smartwatch market is full of ugly devices. The best-looking ones are the Pebble Steel series, which were just released! Aside from that, all I have seen (and used) is a cluster of bulky smart watches that make you look like a 60’s movies cyborg.

Most comes with a square, thick body and a construction that is simply not very appealing. This would be ok if these devices were helpful, but is that the case?

Galaxy-Gear-and-BMW-i3-1

The software factor

Don’t get me wrong, some of these smart watches do offer great functionality, but they continue to be limited due to lack of support. The problem here is inconsistency. No two smartwatches offer the same software and compatibility.

Every smartwatch manufacturer is trying to do their own thing, making it very hard to get real developer support. We have Samsung’s Tizen, Pebble OS, Sony’s Micrium and many Android-based modifications. Each support different apps, are built on different ecosystems and have their very own protocols.

Do we really think developers want to make apps for every single one of these? Smartwatch manufacturers struggle to sell devices, meaning there’s probably not enough users in any single one of these platforms to bring interest. The real solution would be to bring them all together.

Sony

It’s all about Android Wear!

In comes Android Wear, the smartwatch platform we were all waiting for…. One OS to rule them all, and based off Google’s Android. This platform will cover all smartwatches under the same blanket and create consistency.

What makes Android Wear awesome is that it is an operating system with wearables in mind. It offers a simple and uncluttered interface, which was much needed. Smartwatches are currently the main target, but this should change in the future.

The first two Android Wear devices announced are the Moto 360 and LG G Watch, both of which are great on their own merits. I may agree that the Moto 360 is the best one around, simply due to its looks.

Keeping the device alive

Another huge problem I have seen with smartwatches is that they don’t offer great battery life. This may not be an issue the new Android Wear devices fix, though. Even if they did mention battery would be “made a priority”.

Regardless, most smart watches feature an LCD display. Not only is this bad for outdoor reading, but it burns through your battery like no other. Most LCD smartwatches won’t even take you through a full day, and this is why I really like Pebble and Qualcomm. They have used the energy-efficient E-Ink and Mirasol display technologies.

pebble-steel-recode-1 re/code

What else is wrong with current smartwatches?

While Android Wear and Motorola improve upon most of these problems, they are definitely not perfect. We will find more issues when we get to test these devices. Meanwhile, tell us what you hate about current smartwatches.

What can Android Wear fix in the near future? What could manufacturers change to make the smartwatch market boom? Conversely, do you disagree with the idea that all current smartwatches aren’t good enough?

  • I’m of the understanding that Apple has, in their typical fashion, monopolized the entire supply chain of a critical component for their upcoming iWatch. They’ve secured OLED displays from LG with a purchase order in excess of 8mm units, which means we either won’t be seeing the Moto 360 with an OLED display, or that it will come, but much, much later, and will play a big back seat to Apple’s iWatch.

    • Android has more money and more component suppliers than Apple. It would be bad of Google, Samsung, LG, Sony and company to just sit back and let Apple control supply of a good smartwatch display. Google and co need to put their money where their mouth is and create a low power display for Smartwatch that makes the form factor usable. I think a Pixel Qi type of transflective color LCD, E Ink and OLED are the solutions and Google and co need to invest a Billion dollars in each and simply run Android Wear perfectly on them.

    • iKrontologist

      Hardly! lol…. All of their competitors are learning their lesson. Keeping all their parts to themselves, when it comes to especially companies like Samsung. LG is a little more Appleholic and in servitude to to Apple with their parts. But their parts have been proved to be inferior as far as screens go. AMOLED screens are far better than other OLED technologies too.

      LG’s OLED’s require a backlight…… self lighting, but they still need back plane reflective layer. Meaning no transparency first of all. Samsung’s response times on AMOLED are 0.01ms fastest response of any screen technology out today. This while IPS screens are the slowest at 4 to 8ms. Original iPhone Retina is an abysmal 12ms w/ smaller pixels and old technology, Apple is still using on iPhones. LG can make flexible screens, but they don’t make their own Polycarbonate like Samsung does in their own Cheil Industries w/ polycarbonates, resins and engineered Award Winning Infino Brand PC. Used in about every industry today, from Automotive to Optics, to Military, to construction, to Medical Gear, etc.

      Cheil Industries is a 60yr Leader in Plastics R&D, Fabrics, Fashion Industry (Award Winning Designers), supply most auto makers and almost all Luxury Car Makers. In fact Cheil Industries made the majority of parts in Samsung’s own Eco Friendly eMX Electric Concept Car. They supply batteries to most electric car companies and now supply Tesla. Infino Brand PC is the pick of most luxury car makers, because it has highest flame resistance, most optically clear for roofs and sunroofs, most scratch resistant, almost unbreakable and can be clear or colored. Bugatti uses Infino Brand PC in Veyron Convertible’s removable roof, like Samsung Removable Back Covers. Such as that on Galaxy Note 3 that is a whole lot more leather look n feel than Apple’s $80 FAKE Vinyl Pleatherette iPhone Case!

      Processors? Samsung makes their own. Does Apple? NO! Memory? Samsung supplies over 35% of all Memory sold today. Most is high end LPDDR3 and now highest speed LPDDR4. If all you want are mediocre parts, like in Apple’s products (besides those that come from Samsung). Apple can have all the Cut Rate quality cheapy parts they want or need. Like the cheap soft AlumiGate Die Cast aluminum usually only reserved for making toys and trinkets. So I guess it’s fine for iTrinkets!!! ;-P …….but last word; Apple owns literally NOTHING, while Samsung owns the majority of their parts supply chain. Huge difference in being totally outsourced, always worrying about Supply Chain Constraints and being able to make all the parts you need!

  • Rick jaan

    square design look childish …. 360 is really hot……………

    • K2

      It is not the shape, it is never the shape. Its things like OS, apps, ecosystem etc.

  • _X_

    I think the Gear is a good looking watch. The more I see it the more I want it….the 360 is hot though but believe it will be limited

    • Colby Leong

      Sony’s smartwatch 2 looks great. Simple, light, and with the new update it delivers a much better experience, especially being able to design your own watchface. I still like the Gears design, same with the 360, not so much LG.

  • Pebble is not E Ink but it’s Sharp’s Memory LCD. I think E Ink Smartwatches have a huge potential, because you want to see at least the time and any other important smart info when you look at your smartwatch, otherwise it’s a downgrade from a normal watch. Also E Ink Smartwatches can be extremely thin and flexible easily and extremely cheap also. I think we’ll soon see some awesome $49 E Ink Smartwatches on the market.

  • Alex

    I would really like a smart watch that would accept a SIM card. Just imagine leaving your phone, tablet, wallet and keys at home and replacing all of them with your watch.

  • A smart watch would be useful if it is possible to tell the time without looking at your watch — it should be able to cast the time to your smart glassware. Based on instructions, a smart watch should be able to discern what kind of notifications will be useful for the watch owner. A smart watch should be able to dial your phone and connect you with someone in your address book, even when you are not carrying the phone. A smart watch should know that you are the owner, and can reduce its functions if the user fails a biometric test. If the owner turns on the functionality, a smart watch should be able to keep track of heart rate, oxygen diffusion level, and body temperature and make requests to smart buildings or smart thermostats to maintain a level of comfort — it should know how your body is feeling today and adjust the owner’s schedule (based on instructions) accordingly. If the owner desires it, a smart watch should be able to look after the longevity of the owner, by giving the owner information about surrounding air quality, dangerous chemicals, and needed nutrients or minerals (like dehydration).

    • I want it to pick my nose when boogers get bigger than 2mm, which is definitely too big to just be hanging around in my brain breather.

  • shamatuu

    he is right

  • If Lenovo plays with a light hand, Google set Moto on a lot of right directions by having them get well in sync with where Android is going, and feel it’s going to turn out to be a bargain acquisition (and a phoenix) for the company that also bought (and has done well by) what was left of the original IBM PC line.

    (And I love my Moto X).

    I’ve long been thinking both the acquisition (and when it didn’t turn out to be in Big G’s wheelhouse, the sale to a Samsung rival) was a move to provide a Google-friendly counter-balance to Sammy’s push to have more OS control in a way harmful to GOOG’s long-term interests.

    And I’m thinking it may be fairly successful at that. I don’t even want a watch and these give me gadget lust.

  • Shark Bait

    I think moto are going to out-apple Apple in the smart watch game, it looks fantastic, and the software looks very refined ! Im sure the isheep will buy what ever shiny thing apple dangles in front of them lol!

    • Jusephe

      So moto will not out Apple Apple, because Apple has hundreds of millions of users who actually love the products and motorola doesn’t ? And why do you thing it’s so inhuman (sheepish) to go for whatever people think is the best ?

      • iKrontologist

        Out Apple…. Apple? lol… Nobody… no company today wants to be like Apple. Because they know Apple is only about serving their share holders, just like they were under the Pepsi Salesman CEO. Now with Steve Jobs dead, Apple is like a Headless Monster that can’t see and have never had a conscious with their stark clinical industrial designs. Motorola is making smartwatches an ART…. in a device that belongs in a Museum piece. They’ve conquered round screens and now are owned by a company with lots of money as the #1 Computer Maker in the World now, ahead of Apple!

        He’s right about Apple users too. They will buy the latest gadget no matter what just for the Apple Logo on the…… hummm wait a minute? How are Apple fans going to survive w/o Apple Rotten Eaten Apple Logo the main part of the design. I know…. I know…. Apple’s Logo is the design with an odd bite taken out of it and a square screen!

        Apple Market Share though is heading into Niche Market territory. That should make all the Elitists happy, but without market share Apple can never be #1 again! ……soon iPhone and iPad market shares will die just like iPod is!

  • abazigal

    I agree that a square watch face can turn out to be quite irritating. I wear a pebble watch with a long-sleeved shirt for work, and the sleeve covers the watch. What I realise is that the sleeve is always getting caught on the square corner of the watch when I want to pull back my sleeve to look at the time or an incoming notification.

    I am curious as to what your experiences with smart watches are. Currently, my main gripe with them is that they are not really very smart. With my pebble, it’s really only good for one thing – quickly viewing incoming notifications from my wrist, which then allows me to make a snap judgement as to whether I should take out my handphone to view the message (and for about 70% of the time, it’s something I don’t need to respond to immediately). With emails, one issue is that I only know the subject and sender, but not its contents.

    I have a sneaking suspicion Pebble is going to be the next Blackberry of the smart watch industry. It is a one-trick pony (albeit one that works very well and does serve a legitimate use in my life), but the company itself clearly lacks the resources to compete with the bigger companies like Samsung, Google or Apple, and it is only a matter of time before it gets obsoleted by a genuinely superior offering.

  • Jusephe

    Not only is this bad for outdoor reading…. WHAT ????

  • Jon Langevin

    What type of screen does the Moto 360 have?

    • Mur

      No one knows…

  • A Human

    Totally agree, the cash converter shops (uk) near me are full of samsung gear watches going for as little as 90quid

  • battery

    the big problem is the battery. if they only maid the smart watch solar powered or gave it a battery that is able to last a week or 2. it will be a huge hit to every manufacture. i doubt the moto 360 would have this. i hope i am wrong :(

  • Phil Rigby

    Not sure I trust a writer who makes several grammatical errors in his own bio….

  • Anothermuse

    How about the fact that both of the products DON’T exist yet.,

  • Gary W

    Looks good but don’t think it will sell very well.