Comedian, Lewis Black, called it out: “This new millennium sucks! It’s exactly the same as the old millennium. You know why? No flying cars!” OK, to be fair, there are folks currently working on that, but true, not the sky-scape envisioned by science fiction writers and comic book artists. On the other hand, technology has focused on loftier heights – if not precisely the sky.
As brand consultants, we look to consumer expectations to show clients where to profitably look. Year-after-year consumer expectations get higher and higher in nearly every category and, as independent validations have proven, brands that better meet those expectations always see better results. The thing about consumer expectations is that they are mostly emotionally driven, are usually something that consumers can’t easily articulate, and are different from imagination. And if you want to identify where you should be digging for brand gold, you really need to know how to measure expectations.
This has been particularly obvious in the tech arena. No consumer anywhere ever imagined, “a cellphone with a built-in camera.” (BTW, the “need” did show up in expectations as an increased desire for “personal connectivity” but not something stamped, “CAMERA GOES HERE.”) But, as we’ve seen in the past five years, technology marches (and marches) on. And haven’t you occasionally marveled at it and thought, “What can’t these guys do?” And today, apparently, if they can imagine it, they can do it. The ultimate question is “should they?”
This thought occurred to us as more and more full-page ads have recently shown up for the newest early-adopter, geek must-have, wearable computing technology, AKA, smartwatches, which apparently take all the functions of your smartphone and collection of apps and relocates them to your wrist. The ones, currently with, apparently, the largest ad budgets have been Samsung’s Galaxy Gear and Sony’s SmartWatch 2, although rumors abound regarding Apple and Google entries.
Feel free to check out the specs and reviews (or rumors) for each, but if your next thought/question was, “It’s very techy/nerdy/cool, but why do I need this?” welcome to the club. Expectations – even those that seem totally unrealistic and unconstrained by reality and that are indistinctly described in form and foundation – always end up reflecting what people really want. And sometimes – particularly as regards technology – the offerings are everything the sci-fi writers ever imagined, but nothing that actually meets consumer real expectations.
Sure, wearable computing will eventually become an expectation, but based on current consumer expectations, no time soon. So technology brands beware: just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.
Will smartwatches become as ubiquitous as smartphones? Maybe when cars fly!