Andreessen Horowitz partner and mobile expert Benedict Evans thinks Google is missing a crucial point when it comes to wearable technology.
On stage at Business Insider’s annual Ignition conference, Evans talked about how Apple and Google approaches the wearables market differently.
“The problem with Android is they sort of provide the experience you would have on your phone,” Evans said. “There’s not really any sense of imagination. What would delight you about having it? [That is] why people spend $US500-$US1,000 on a watch.”
Smartwatches powered by Google’s Android Wear platform let you instantly respond to texts and email by voice, can display directions from Google Maps, and show information about your health among other capabilities.
That may sound similar to what the Apple Watch does, but Evans says there’s a major difference in Apple’s smartwatch strategy versus Google’s.
According to Evans, the Apple Watch is the first smartwatch that truly feels like something you’d want to wear rather than a shrunken computer made to fit your wrist. This, Evans says, is why people would be willing to shell out big bucks on an Apple Watch rather than a competitor.
The biggest problem, however, is that the market and necessary use cases for the smartwatch are still unclear. Since smartwatches haven’t really caught on with mainstream users yet, it’s hard to tell exactly what they’re best used for, or even capable of.
It’s similar to the way mobile phones have evolved into a whole new form of computing rather than just a means of communicating.
“I think it’s hard to work out an entirely new category, in the same way the iPad was hard to work out,” Evans said. “You have to be concious of what a fundamental change it is. Saying ‘I don’t need to take out my mobile phone because I have this’ is kind of missing the point the same way saying ‘I don’t need a mobile phone because there are payphones’ is missing the point.”
Although Evans had some positive comments to share on the Apple Watch, it’s still hard to tell how successful and useful it will be until it launches.
“The question is whether I’m wearing it six months later or if it’s fallen into a drawer,” he said.