Santa won’t be delivering many smartwatches this year, say researchers

This year was supposed to be one filled with smartwatch goodness, and while we’ve seen the announcement and release of several interesting models, none have particularly captured our imagination. According to research firm Gartner, this is a problem for manufacturers looking forward to a prosperous holiday sales season, as it speculates a smartwatch won’t be topping many lists for Santa this year.

In a press release, Gartner says those wanting to take their first steps into the world of wearable tech this year, are more likely to be tempted by fitness bands like the Nike FuelBand SE. So why not a smartwatch? The report is rather scathing, calling the smartwatches on sale unstylish, and lacking in innovative design. While it says this probably won’t put off early adopters, it’s a severe problem for mainstream audiences.

Price is also a major concern, as at a minimum of $200, smartwatches don’t offer enough value for money, despite Gartner saying most people recognize the convenience factor of not having to reach for their phone at every notification sound. Improving design, battery life, and offering the final device at a more competitive price will be essential to improving sales.

One of the cheapest smartwatch options is the Kickstarter-funded Pebble, which can be purchased online or at Best Buy stores, but it still runs at $150. Samsung’s Galaxy Gear costs $300, and has a wide range of features including the ability to answer calls, while the newly announced Qualcomm Toq will cost $350 when it goes on sale in early December.

Interestingly, Gartner predicts the smartwatch will remain a companion to mobile phones until 2017, which is really the function we expected it to perform forever. Is anyone calling (sorry) for a watch to replace their phone? We’d certainly rather see manufacturers put the effort into perfecting the smartwatch’s ability as a second screen, than try to make them fully fledged phones.

While the smartwatch doesn’t look like it’ll be the Christmas present of choice this year, don’t expect them to disappear from the news, as manufacturers will be keener than ever to push them towards early adopters and tech fans.

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