I’ve always wanted to have a smartwatch that would be at least minimally useful. That minimal usefulness is very well defined - at least a week of battery life, virtual bezel, fitness apps, HR sensor, GPS, NFC and LTE optionally. Unfortunately, I have been waiting for anyone to produce such a device since the debut of the first Moto 360.
Today, I’ve created a map, and I think I finally know why no such watch will appear in the near future - and it is because we are facing a silent revolution in the silicon industry.
Let’s look at a map of the environment:
Multiple user needs drive the consumption of the computing power. This growth must be so extraordinary that the underlying value chain is being scrutinised for efficiency, and new approaches are being investigated. The AI plays a notable role here, as it created demand that prodded multiple players to enter the race of designing and improving chips.
Just look at the not so new news:
The effects of this are quite interesting. Existing players face challenges. They not only risk missing the future market, but they are also fighting for survival:
This, in turn, sets the landscape for wearables, and since they are a market nowhere near as a big as the market for specialised AI chips, nothing new is being created. Even Qualcomm, the provider of Snapdragon Wear 2100, a platform that powers majority of Android Wear smartwatches, seems to be content with such an old and outdated product.
It looks like the market of chip producers got rebooted, and because it is so deep in the value chain, an average consumer will never get a chance to see the bloody fight that is already happening in that space. More than that. Existing limitations in chip design know-how may be lifted if only they will become significant enough (they will), and we witness the pendulum of power moving back to hardware designers.
Only then, after the dust settles, companies will focus on smaller markets again, and I might be able to buy my desired smartwatch.
Edit: Apparently, I knew when to complain. A new mobile chipset is rumoured to be released in September 2018, along with new smartwatches. It looks like IoT and AI markets were not that big…
… and that chipset turns out to be disappointment. The addition of the smaller, always-on computing unit does not change the 2014ish technology (compare it with the Apple progress in this space).