If you’ve read any of my thoughts on Android Wear, you know that I’m not exactly bullish on the platform lately. I’ve still yet to keep a smartwatch on my wrist more than a month or two, and many I know share the same thought — is it worth the trouble if we always have our phones? It appears that Huawei rotating CEO Eric Xu Zhijun agrees with this sentiment, as he shared in a recent interview…
“I’m not a man who wears watches, and I’ve never been optimistic about this market. In fact, I’ve never figured out why we need to wear smartwatches when everything we need is on our phones,” Zhijun said during a Q&A session at Huawei’s Analyst Summit 2017.
“Therefore, when the smartwatch team at Huawei presents their ideas to me with great excitement, I keep reminding them to consider whether there are tangible needs in the market,” he said.
These comments come just a bit more than a month since Huawei introduced not only its new P10 smartphone, but the bulkier-and-sportier, LTE-laden Huawei Watch 2 at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. While the first Huawei Watch was met with mostly resounding praise, reviews for the second-generation Watch haven’t been nearly as kind.
While I was a strong believer in wearables at first, their practicality (or lack thereof) has become an evident fallback for me. It’s hard to remember to charge them, they only provide limited functionality, navigating a 1-inch screen with your finger is no fun, and they usually aren’t that stylish. On top of these things, the latest Android Wear watches tend to be bulky and pack LTE, neither I care much for.
On one hand, Android Wear watches — despite Google’s most sincere intentions otherwise — don’t really vary all that much. Sure, designs vary a little between brands, but the inner hardware is mostly the same. Fashion brands left and right have been using the platform lately as a way to say “me too!” in the smartwatch market, releasing products that are altogether uninteresting.
On the other hand, they all tend to have just one too many compromises for me. I like the feature set of both the LG Watch Sport and LG Watch Style, for example, but the Sport is far too bulky for me to even consider wearing it on a daily basis and the Style is missing basic features like a heart rate sensor that would power one use case — health tracking — that I actually find somewhat useful. As unfortunate as it may be, the watch that seems to have the least compromises for me is the 38mm Apple Watch, but there’s one key compromise there that I can’t live with: it only works with the iPhone.
Overall, I agree with Huawei’s CEO in that I just don’t find smartwatches all that compelling. Maybe I’m a little more optimistic than Zhijun in that I think the platform might have a chance to be a bit more attractive when the technology has more time to mature. I enjoyed the original Huawei Watch more than most smartwatches I’ve tried, for instance, so let’s hope Zhijun’s sentiment doesn’t trickle down and mean that we won’t see a Huawei Watch 3. I’d say it’s not exactly a good sign, though, when a company’s CEO has to remind a team to consider whether they are even meeting a need…