Recently a headline stating that most Americans don’t want wearable tech caught my eye and reminded me of many past of articles regarding consumer choices which were just plain wrong. The piece can be summed up with the following paragraph:
The April telephone poll of 1,011 Americans 18 and older found that only 34 percent of those polled who make $100,000 or more a year would consider buying or wearing a consumer-grade smart watch or smart glasses. For those with a significantly smaller income, $35,000 annually, the percentage of those interested in the technology increases to 47 percent.
The implication of the headline is the wearable market will remain a niche and while this could very well be the case, the reality is consumers and analysts have no idea where markets which haven’t been invented yet will be in the future.
If we go back in history, here are some incorrect headlines and industry sentiments I remember which are worth pondering:
- IBM’s OS/2 will be the operating system of the future replacing both UNIX and Windows.
- IP telephony/VoIP is a hobbyist toy, no company or carrier would consider using it.
- Being a web portal is a much better business than being a search engine.
- Publicly traded companies are better off not making profit so their valuations can increase beyond a traditional price/earnings multiple.
- No one wants to buy Apple computers.
- No one would share every aspect of their life voluntarily online.
- No one will ever buy music again.
- Brick and mortar stores are all doomed.
- Intel will have a near-monopoly position in processors forever.
- Consumers will leave Google in a heartbeat if a better search engine comes along.
- No one would volunteer to communicate with others in 140 character increments.
- Internet Explorer marketshare would never decrease dramatically.
- No one wants to host their CRM or anything in the cloud.
- There is no market for tablet computing.
- Microsoft will win the smartphone war over RIM because it is a more-open platform.
- No one wants the Amazon Kindle (I really got that one wrong).
- Apple will never have products in the enterprise (no one anticipated BYOD was coming).
- There is no way Google will make an OS which becomes widely used in the enterprise.
- No one wants a smartphone without a keyboard.
- Living in the US means we don’t have to worry about government surveillance like in 3rd-world dictatorships.
There you have it – a list of predictions from researchers – often based on interviews with end-users and experts that were just so wrong, its shocking when you see them all together.
Does this mean wearable tech is the future? No – but it means that consumers decide to buy things once they get to see and touch them. Many iPhone users today swore they would never ever give up their Blackberry keyboards and if they start to see amazing wearable tech products, they will quickly climb on board and buy them.