Today is the big day for pop star turned tech entrepreneur will.i.am. He’s finally unveiling his mysterious smartwatch, a new piece of wearable technology that he has been teasing for months.
Last month, will.i.am spoke about the current generation of wearable technology, and he didn’t exactly shower praise on the latest efforts from Apple and Samsung. Instead, he declared that they’re “not the future.”
So is will.i.am’s new smartwatch the future? If it is, then the future of wearables looks incredibly bleak. Here’s why.
The Launch Has Already Been Delayed By Four Months
will.i.am has been teasing his new wearable device for months, and the release date has kept slipping back. The first time we saw the device was in April, when will.i.am claimed that it would be released in July, after missing its planned June launch.
The Prototype Doesn’t Work
The will.i.am smartwatch has made a handful of TV appearances before its launch, and it hasn’t worked properly in any of them.
It was first seen in an episode of British TV show “Alan Carr: Chatty Man” on April 4. In the episode, will.i.am is seen wearing two of his smartwatches, one on each wrist.
During the interview, the smartwatch audio seemed to be overdubbed, rather than coming from will.i.am’s microphone. He began playing music through one of the watches, and danced in his seat, but there was no audible change in volume as his arms waved around.
The smartwatch was also shown in an episode of British reality TV show The Voice. will.i.am uses the watch to answer a call from a fellow judge in the singing competition. He swipes at the screen seven times to answer the call, but the audio was so bad that he couldn’t hear the person he was talking to.
There’s A Big Conflict Of Interest
will.i.am is a co-founder of headphone manufacturer Beats. Billboard reports that he continues to own a founding stake in the company which was purchased by Apple in May. Apple is gearing up to release its Apple Watch smartwatch in early 2015. See the problem here? will.i.am is going to be competing against his own parent company.
will.i.am Has Said Some Inaccurate Things His Inventions
Back in 2012, will.i.am excitedly claimed to Jay Leno that he had custom-built a brand new kind of car based on Chrysler parts. That wasn’t true. Instead it was revealed that a garage had simply built will.i.am a DeLorean DMC-12.
The suspicious car was later “stolen” from outside will.i.am’s star-studded album launch party. He took to Twitter to complain about the theft, even claiming to have hired a private investigator to track it down using some kind of “tracking device.” But it later emerged that the car had been quietly returned to the star by a high-profile Los Angeles-based car modification shop.
will.i.am’s Last Product Launch Was A Complete Failure
Remember the will.i.am i.am+ foto.sosho? That was the catchy name for will.i.am’s first ever product. The foto.sosho was a $US415 case for your iPhone, which will.i.am launched in 2012. Unfortunately for will.i.am, the foto.sosho sank without a trace, and his representatives don’t talk about it anymore.
will.i.am revealed in an interview that 2,000 foto.soshos were produced to sell in British retail store Selfridges. But it looks like the number of units sold came in far under that figure, as the store has hidden the product from its website, and revealed in 2013 that it never ordered any more foto.soshos. If the product had performed well, then they would have ordered more. After all, Selfridges loves nothing more than a flashy product with celebrity endorsement. But the foto.sosho sold so few units that the company wants nothing more to do with it.
The CEO Of The Company Has A Notorious Past
Chandra Rathakrishnan is the CEO of i.am+, will.i.am’s hardware company that will launch his new smartwatch. Rathakrishnan was accused of fraud by TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington after their plan to develop a low-cost “CrunchPad” tablet fell apart. It’s alleged that in 2009 Rathakrishnan emailed TechCrunch to cut them out of the deal, informing them that the CrunchPad would be known as the JooJoo. A San Francisco court eventually dismissed Arrington’s request for an injunction, ruling that TechCrunch had entered into a business partnership with Rathakrishnan’s company Fusion Garage.
After a series of delays, the tablet finally went on sale. Only 90 people pre-ordered the device, and Rathakrishnan’s company went bankrupt, owing debts of over $US40 million.