Smart watches might not fit millennials' needs, expert says

Aug 22, 2013 by Paresh Dave

Young adults tend to be early adopters of new technology. But as Samsung Electronics Co. reportedly prepares to unveil its Gear smart watch next month, it could run into a barrier among young users who have grown up with time-telling cellphones in their pockets instead of watches around their wrists.

"A lot of the millennial behavior is transitory," said Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future. "But as people age, they still are not wearing watches, and we'll begin to find out next month if that behavioral change is transformational."

The center, affiliated with the USC Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism, has been tracking the same group of people for 13 years. And its annual study has given the think tank long-range insights into changing .

This year, Cole said, questions about wearables - that are worn rather than held - are starting to emerge.

"We're preparing for the invasion onto our body," he said.

The results, which fall in line with other market research surveys, show little interest in devices such as Google Glass, Nike's FuelBand health monitor, the Fitbit activity tracker and smart watches among millennials. About 3 percent of are using smart watches, Cole said.

"People right now don't think they want wearables," he said. "People also don't realize what they want, and we believe having the Internet right at our level 24/7 is going to be a compelling proposition."

The emerging problem is that everyone's starting to dig in their heels against privacy intrusions and the blurring lines between work and play. Having a talking, tracking and texting watch isn't about to make things easier for consumers.

"Technology is a fundamental part of people's lives, but we're working for balance," Cole said. "Nobody wants to ban the stuff, but we need to create boundaries."

About 45 percent of people surveyed by the center said they can spend more time with family and friends because technology allows for working remotely. Still, 20 percent resented working from home and 31 percent said technology had made finding that balance harder.

Gadget manufacturers could help by improving features such as user profiles and account switching to help people segregate work and personal tasks. A smart watch, for example, could automatically stop corporate email notifications during lunch or while the device's sensors determine that the person is exercising.

Cole recalled a button on his old Palm Treo that needed one flick to turn off the ringer - something that takes several taps on some newer devices. That could explain why a slowly growing number of survey respondents, now 25 percent, said they struggled to figure out new technology.

"You don't get instruction manuals anymore," Cole said. "To really understand your smartphone, you would need 300 pages and days of training."

Explore further: Will smart watches find many buyers?

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Will smart watches find many buyers?

Jul 30, 2013

When it comes to the target market for a smart watch, I'm probably it: I love tech, I'm often an early adopter of new gadgets and, until very recently, I was a lifelong watch wearer. But even I'm not sure I really need or ...

Are smart watches the next big thing?

Jul 24, 2013

If you're like most Americans, you don't wear a wristwatch. But increasingly, electronics companies are betting you'll slap one on your wrist if it's more like a smartphone than a simple timepiece.

Samsung seeks smart watch trademarks in US, SKorea

Aug 07, 2013

Samsung Electronics Co. has applied for U.S. and South Korean trademarks for a watch that connects to the Internet in the latest sign that consumer technology companies see wearable devices as the future ...

Wearable computers a smart fashion trend

Jun 27, 2013

The notion of being fashionably smart is getting a makeover as Internet-linked computers get woven into formerly brainless attire such as glasses, bracelets and shoes.

Recommended for you

Xbox One update is big on friends, Blu-ray 3D support

Jul 21, 2014

An Xbox One August update is arriving for early-access users. Microsoft said, "We're looking forward to hearing feedback on features before we roll them out to all Xbox One consoles next month and beyond." ...

How Kindle Unlimited compares with Scribd, Oyster

Jul 18, 2014

Amazon is the latest—and largest—company to offer unlimited e-books for a monthly fee. Here's how Kindle Unlimited, which Amazon announced Friday, compares with rivals Scribd and Oyster.

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Hev
not rated yet Aug 22, 2013
Smart phone manufacturers should concentrate on improving the batteries first. That is much more important than unwanted or unneeded extras. And all apps except those essential to use the device should be removable.

zaxxon451
not rated yet Aug 23, 2013
Perhaps we should stop buying all this junk that corporations say we "need".