Too Smart For Comfort?

It’s tough to state that the glory days of traditional watches are now in the rear-view mirror, but that’s exactly it. Wearable technology is now a thing. And while we cannot discredit the amount of success and innovation that legacy brands like Rolex, TAG Heuer and others have provided, these manufacturers are nervously waiting for their coup de grâce.

 In just three short years, strong competition from Apple, and their release of the Apple Watch, have not only transformed the industry, but toppled industry giants from their longstanding control of the industry. Much like the iPhone revolutionized the way people interact with mobile devices, the same can be said regarding wearable technology. Even with strong players like Garmin, Fitbit, and other fitness tracking companies, one thing remains constant – apps are a detriment to the sustainability of basic fitness devices.

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Initially, I was a skeptic. The introduction of the Apple Watch seemed like just another cool gadget to show off. But just like I stated in one of my previous posts, people don’t realize they need one until they have one. That said, there’s always been something unique that traditional watches provide. Perhaps its simplicity, or for some, a way to express their personality. But today, with all of the different innovations and customization (i.e. faces, bands, etc.), aren’t smartwatches providing the same?

In an article on Mashable, the popularity of smartwatches took off due to their capabilities to facilitate payments and GPS technology. To a certain extent, these new features are enabling consumers to rely less on their mobile devices due to the amount of information someone can access and the comfort of convenience.

According to Fortune, smartwatch sales should hit 71 million devices this year, and grow steadily to reach 140 million devices by 2022. Further, Apple sold more watches last quarter than Rolex, Omega, and Swatch combined, and for the first time, shipped more watches in 4Q2017 than the entire Swiss watch industry.

However, in order to add more fuel to the debate, how much convenience and comfort is too much?

Fitbit announced that it is on the verge of releasing a new smartwatch in an effort to not only regain lost market share, but to also connect with women in a unique way. The Versa, which will be priced at $199 is Fitbit’s attempt to help women track and understand their menstrual cycles. The company is trying to directly appeal to women all while balancing a fine line in order to not alienate its male consumer (which currently make up more than half of its Fitbit userbase).

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Dr. Katharine White, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Boston University’s School of Medicine teamed up with Fitbit to help design this portion of the app and create medical content that will be published along with it.

Fitbit_App_iOS_PR_Female_Health_Logging

Fitbit believes that with this new app and technology, women could potentially identify patterns over time, track fertility, and provide insight into various health initiatives. However, are some aspects of the app/design too intrusive?

This leads me to ask…

Is this new app/feature enough incentive for women to purchase this new product? Apple released something similar in 2015, but it’s not as in depth or refined as Fitbit claims this new initiative to be.

I guess the troubling part for me is knowing that someone’s personal information is out there, it can be tracked by Fitbit and whatever other 3rd party can purchase/access the information, and what will this new information be used for. Personally, I feel that this product will experience forceful and immediate backlash from women everywhere.

The BIC company once introduced pink pens in an effort to appeal to women. Sadly, that initiative was a disaster due to the company’s inability to understand what woman really prioritize. Women pick up a pen to write work related things. The pink pen campaign assumed that a woman’s first thought in picking up a pen is, “I want a pretty color.”

Fitbit has a problem rooted in the same place that BIC did: What do women need. How many women will invest so much time and money to attach something to their body that will track their menstrual cycle? I would assume not many (excluding women with medical reasons, but that is an obvious exception).

We are all living through this digital age where privacy concerns are a big focus on what is right and what should be left alone. So, I’m asking all of the women out there, where do you side with this new product?

As always, sound off in the comments and thank you for kikinitwithraf!

11 comments

  1. I for one did not see the wearable tech thing taking off honestly. I thought it was more of a gimmicky thing that Apple was coming out with to try to stave off irrelevancy. Though I can see the benefit to it, I will definitely always be a traditional watch kind of guy.

    When it comes to tracking user’s data, I would doubt that that would be a huge barrier, as US consumers barely care about privacy at all. As you pointed out, I think the biggest barrier to Fitbit’s success here is the demand for the product in its current form. I highly doubt users are motivated enough to put effort into tracking things themselves.

  2. I really don’t see the menstrual cycle tracker being successful with recruiting more women to buy this Fitbit. For one, there are a ton of apps already that serve a similar purpose. They are obviously not as accurate as I’m sure this technology is, but for many women I think it is sufficient enough, and free. Two, since many women are on birth control and menstrual cycles are basically artificial, there is no need to really track it. I think it could possibly appeal to women who are trying to get pregnant since fertility is a bit trickier, but I’m no health expert, obviously.

    Personally, I have never really wanted a Fitbit in the first place. I have never been a fan of wearable technology because I don’t like the idea of it. However, I think with more research into what the Fitbit can track besides just cycles and fertility, theres a chance I’d consider it.

  3. I honestly do not believe that this can become a wide spread idea. With how advanced the medical world has gotten, the market for this watch could be slim. As many new ideas go, this wearable tech might just be a phase. Since its new and cool people are eager to try it out and see how it goes, but I do not see wearable tech having that many changes.
    After this phase passes, people will either keep it going or just go back to regular watches. I feel as if society has yet to come to a conclusion whether they like wearable tech or not. Specifically for women, I know that other companies have tried to create a watch that keeps track of the cycle, but they do not have a lot of success. Many influencers that have come off the TV show The Bachelor have been promoting a product called AVA women. Fitbit might have leverage since they’re a well known brand, but I think this move is risky.

  4. This is an interesting post, and certainly the smart watches provide more functionality and comfort than traditional swiss watches do. However, I do not think that their “coup de grace” is not coming anytime near soon, mainly because swiss watch market has already been quite niche for well-off consumers who prioritize the brand, recognition, and put value into the craftsmanship and movement rather than the functionality itself. One of the biggest reasons why Apple smart watches have a lot more sales compared to the swiss watch brands combined mainly has to do with its ability to provide large supply at cheap manufacturing costs. Swiss watches, however, have small supply, and the demand is always there. For instance, if you want a brand new Rolex watch that has a well-known version/edition, you have to wait for about 2 years until you can purchase it, as there is a waiting list for it. This is also the reason why Rolex brand has low depreciation in comparison to other brands. At any rate, since watch buyers who consider swiss watches in the first place buy them not because of the functionality aspect but for other reasons, smart watches and swiss watches will operate in a different market segment. I see smart watch market getting bigger indeed, but I don’t see it necessarily hampering swiss watch market’s sales if anything.

  5. Interesting post. Obviously I can’t comment on the fertility cycle side of things, but Apple does claim that the newest watches can identify the likelihood of a heart attack ahead of time due to irregular heart rhythms and the phone is sensitive enough to do breathing tests. Pretty crazy.

  6. As far as wearable technology goes, I believe there is an untapped market for hybrid versions. Fossil has created a hybrid smartwatch that I find very interesting (link at bottom). These watches have the stylish look and feel of traditional designer watches with wearable technology capabilities. For me personally, this seems to be a very good balance between the two. I have an Apple Watch (a Christmas gift 2 years ago) but only wore it for about 2 months. I simply did not like the look and feel of it on my wrist, and this did not outweigh the benefits for me. Almost every day I wear a traditional watch and keep my smartphone in my pocket and that works just fine.

    In response to the menstruation app embedded in the new FitBit wearable, I do not see this as an alienating feature, however do not see a huge market for it. As @katherinekorol mentioned, most women who are concerned with tracking their periods are already doing so through other apps that are free and already on the market. For those who are tracking for fertility reasons, I would think many are doing so with the assistance of a medical professional. Personally this app would not turn me off of FitBit, but it would also not entice me to purchase this device.

    https://www.fossil.com/us/en/wearable-technology.html?gclid=EAIaIQobChMImerC7LLs2QIVm7rACh1JrAlWEAAYASAAEgIJO_D_BwE&cid=pds:conv:google:TM%3ASmartwatches%7CExact%3AGN:fossil%20smartwatch&s_kwcid=AL!4524!3!123457413488!e!!g!!fossil%20smartwatch&ef_id=WYTpcQAAA4WNPy9h:20180314180230:s

  7. I have been going back and forth about buying a fitbit for a long while now, as some of the aspects of the device are very useful while I also don’t really want to invest the money. Professor Kane’s point about the apple watch possibly being able to predict illness such as heart attack would be pretty amazing. It would be interesting to see if the data collected by smartwatches could improve the health technology industry, but as someone mentioned in a previous blog post, this could become very invasive with data and a lack of personal treatment. If people just become numbers and data that their fitbit collects to diagnose certain things, you lose the personal connection of the doctor. I think that wearable technology is not necessarily invasive since people have to purchase the item and are kind of consenting when they do so. If i chose not to wear the watch, it can’t collect data on me.

  8. Great post Rafael, I think this post really sparked the conversation here not necessarily about the information flood which can come with Smart Wearables, but whether or not they are necessary to function. There’s quite a 50/50 split on whether or not smart watches are necessary to function in our everyday lives but certainly some people recognize their benefits. I personally have not needed a smart watch but I see how certain use cases can draw people to them.

    They are great for fitness tracking if you feel you need a watch to motivate yourself for fitness. Quantitative measures aid in real time results of fitness rather than purely focusing on weight loss or muscle gain. I had a close friend that used his smartwatch to connect to his glucose monitor for Diabetes which proved successful. It provided him with real time updates about his glucose levels and reminders to take insulin. I think we have yet to see widespread adoption of smart watches because the boundaries of their capabilities are still being tested with programs like Apple Pay or App Integration. It seems that standalone smart watches are not the answer to many of the worlds widespread problems in the same way that SmartPhones or Televisions were but they certainly have tackled a number of smaller markets to stay alive in the industry.

  9. Really like this post. I want to comment about what you said about “you don’t realize you need one until you have one”… this is actually the first of your blogs that I’m reading, so I don’t know exactly what you’ve said about this in the past. My question is just do we really need it then? I think tech can be an addiction that sucks us in. I think these watches are definitely becoming increasingly practical, but not increasingly necessary. Wearable tech scares me, because sometimes I really just want a break from my phone.

  10. @realjakejordon i think you nailed a great point here and that is, when is it necessary to disconnect from your mobile device?

  11. A few things: It is possible to get the best of both worlds. For people looking for luxury brand appeal, at a similar price point as the phone or $1,299.00, you can get an Hermes apple watch or a LV band. Quantity isn’t the proxy for success in my eyes. Quality and resale value would be a better proxy. Rolex doesn’t want to produce the same amount of apple watches. The firm is going for the opposite of ubiquity more like elusiveness. A company that purposefully in some cases spends up to one year making a watch ,depending on the style, isn’t into high inventory numbers. A rolex will never need a charge or a battery and stands a part as a keeper of value. I can’t imagine anyone will consider an apple watch a suitable investment for a future generation. Until then, you still cannot compare the two options.

    https://www.apple.com/shop/buy-watch/apple-watch/silver-stainless-steel-fauve-barenia-double-tour?afid=p238|scsqUg7Mu-dc_mtid_1870765e38482_pcrid_246386975229_&cid=aos-us-kwgo-pla-watch–slid–product-MQLJ2LL/A&product=MQLJ2LL/A&step=detail

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