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Huawei CEO doesn’t understand why smartwatches exist (and he has a point)

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Julian Chokkattu/Digital Trends
Why it matters to you

Even smartwatch makers are questioning why we need the devices -- and it's pushing them to make better and more useful gear.

“I am always confused as to what smartwatches are for when we have smartphones.” This is a statement many of us have struggled with, perhaps as we ponder a smartwatch purchase or admire one strapped to a friend’s wrist. Except it’s not any old statement. It’s a quote from Eric Xu Zhijun, current CEO at Huawei, the technology company that has recently launched the brand-new Huawei Watch 2 for you to buy.

It doesn’t end there. Xu went on to say that he would never wear a smartwatch himself, and apparently reminds the smartwatch team every time they come to him with a new product to “consider whether there are tangible needs in the market” for this type of device. No one can accuse Eric of being continually on-message here, and although his words may sound at odds with Huawei’s branding and products, it’s actually a very real problem for smartwatch manufacturers and buyers.

Smartwatch use in the United States hasn’t met projections, with some statistics showing the number of owners falling short of the estimates by at least a third, and a “lack of well-defined use cases” is to blame, alongside high prices. That doesn’t mean people won’t buy them, and data from Canalysis states sales will rise by 18 percent this year over 2016. But smartwatches still haven’t delivered on the many early promises regarding sales and attention.

Huawei recently announced the Huawei Watch 2, a follow-up to the original Huawei Watch, which is widely considered to be one of the most attractive smartwatches yet seen. The sequel is considerably more masculine in its style, but adds new features including a SIM card slot, so it can act as a stand-alone device. This separates it from most other smartwatches currently available, and goes someway to answering Xu Zhijun’s questions on why we need one, by actually becoming a smartphone itself.