Are smartwatches for nerds only?

by Volker Weber


Selling a smartwatch isn't easy. Most people who can afford one, may already have a better, read "more expensive" one on their wrist. They may be tempted to put a fitness band on the other wrist, but they won't leave their good watch at home. And then there are those, who never really wear a watch, because there are so many places around us which show the time. Including your own phone.

What are you seeing? How many people around you wear a smartwatch? How many of those would you consider not being a nerd? What kind of wearables do you see? Apple Watch, Android Gear, Pebble, Sportswatch?


I am seeing more and more Apple watches out there - both technical and executive folks. Especially after the holidays - seems it was a popular gift. I see more and more of my friends with them as well. And people at business events.

I see a Pebble here and there. I rarely see an Andriod watch. and still lots of fitness bands.

John Head, 2016-02-12

Pebbles are nerd-only devices - I've never seen one on a non-geek. I've never seen an Android watch at all (though maybe I just didn't notice). I've seen Apple watches on quite a few friends, some for geeky reasons and some for fitness and some for the perceived prestige. I still see more traditional fitness bands than Apple watches, though.

My personal theory? If/when the watch ever BECOMES the phone and is REALLY fully functional either via voice command or holographic UI, they'll go mainstream. Sure, plenty of people don't wear watches because they already carry a phone. But if they could get away with that phone being comfortably on their wrist at all times, they'd jump on it.

Rob McDonagh, 2016-02-12

Only one person I know, regularly wears an Apple watch, and he would definitely be classed as a nerd. He uses it professionally though (truck driver, uses it for hands-free texting). I usually wear a Pebble Time. Most of my running friends wear a running watch, but not socially. I don't usually see anyone wearing any watch, those that do, use "dumb" watches.

Joseph Federer, 2016-02-12

I see Android gear and Apple watches. Then sports bands, like tomtom.
The general consumer is completely unaware. While wearing my Microsoft Band 2 in a pretty closed environment for four weeks, I was asked many times, what it was and if it was 'the Apple thing'. I showed it to several people and I think I sold some ;) The Microsoft Band (2) being crossplattform is totally great thing. Even if born out of necessity.

Hubert Stettner, 2016-02-12

I see both Apple and Android watches; I have seen very few people wearing a Pebble (recently seen on a family member who is definitely not a geek!). Android watches I have seen are worn (almost) exclusively by geeks (or nerds for that matter). Apple watches seem to be more of a mixed bag: worn by geeks as well as by "normal" people. We are still in the very early stages of adoption: geeks are first (as always), many will follow. Same happened during iPod adoption or smartphone (iPhone) adoption.
And yes I understand that it's a tough choice for many to leave their "real" time piece behind. Once you are used to a smart watch however it's difficult to go back. Time will tell ;-) whether smart watches will really take of or become a niche product. My guess is they will take off big time - but it might take some time. Apple seems to be on the right track in terms of mass adoption since they are positioning Apple watch more as a fashion accessory than as a piece of technology. I guess a good metric will be how quickly women will start buying smart watches. Even Apple watch seems to be a tough sell in this regard but I'm sure than will change.

Markus Dierker, 2016-02-12

I know one person who owns an Apple Watch, one person with a Pebble, one person with an LG Android smartwatch and one with a Samsung Gear S2. Out of these, I would consider the LG smartwatch user the be kind of nerdy. The other ones definitely not. On of the is my mother. ;)
I myself still own a Sony Smartwatch 3, but I will probably sell it after my upcoming vacation. Charging it every 1-2 days feels to cumbersome and there's not that much added benefit for me wearing the watch, especially in the winter.

Daniel Haferkorn, 2016-02-12

All of the people I know who wear smartwatches are nerds. I expect this to change, now that the smartwatches are starting to be easier to use and include many more features.

In my case, I just yesterday started wearing a Samsung Gear S2 (Android, which works wonderfully with my Moto X 2014 phone). This is replacing the Fitbit, Pebble watch, Polar watch, and Mio watch among which I've been alternating depending on the need at the time. Often I would have the Fitbit on one wrist, and one of the other watches on the other wrist.

The Gear S2 is small enough that to many it would look like an "ordinary" watch. Indeed, it is very possible that I've simply not noticed that others (non-nerds) are wearing some of these less obtrusive devices.

There is a large community of athletes (runners are the ones with whom I'm familiar) that have all manner of quasi-smart watches. These are Garmins and other brands that have GPS / heart monitor. I see that community especially taking to the newer Apple and Android offerings (and to a lesser extent Fitbit) to add more features to what they currently have available on their wrists when running.

Joe Litton, 2016-02-12

I see a few smartwatches in the office. Only on what I would consider to be very techie people, maybe not geeks, but probably close enough for your case. Those iPhone users who are quick to buy any Apple gadget use one of Apple Watches, gut feeling is that it is primarily the sports one. A few other iPhone users and of course Android users favour the Pebble. I didn't see any Samsung watch yet at the office - but there was one in the gym group in my rehab center after a surgery in 2014 and that person didn't seem like a geek. He only got it for the heart rate sensor. In numbers there's probably still fewer than 5% with a smartwatch at all and in those Apple Watch may have a 60% share (iOS is supported by IT, anything else is BYOD with out specific support).

Ragnar Schierholz, 2016-02-12

Don’t laugh: I’ve never seen an Apple Watch in the wild. I still see a lot of fitness bands, a lot of nothing ;-) on the wrists und some luxury watches. Maybe my environment isn’t geeky enough?

Lutz Hildebrandt, 2016-02-12

I see alot of smart watches in my environment. Most sport watches (Polar, Garmin), then some android ones and a very few Apple Watches. I guess that most (like me) only wear sport watches because they are equiped with activty trackers. The Polar v800 received an update for Android / iOS notifications, but it never comes to my mind to use this feature.

Torben Volkmann, 2016-02-12

I seldom see people using smartwatches. Samsung Gear S2 is running tizen, not android.

christian Just, 2016-02-13

US office of an Swedish/ European Telco... maybe 35 people. Two fitbits in the office, both ladies. Two smart watches, do not even know which ones, but they are Android folks (Samsung tablet, Nexus phones). Heard two colleagues (not the one that have one already for themselves) say they got their wives Apple watches.
Coincidentally three Google Fi users, but I know that was not asked. Sorry, but that one rocks more than any Smart watch... sorry, off- topic, sorry.
In other words, to sum it up, very few people in the office.

Alexander Koch, 2016-02-14

Software Development at a large online retail company, around 40 people in my departement.

There are just two smart watches around, mine and someone else's. Both Android. So even among geeks market penetration is quite low.

I am using a Zen Watch 2 and love it. The main advantage is that I can now read the headers and first sentences of all incoming messages - and in 90% of all cases I can see immediately that I can happily ignore them.

My work days are now much more relaxed as I can stay in the flow and do not waste time and energy anymore fiddling with my mobile for nothing.

Interesting point: I bought another zen watch 2 for my wife who couldn't get used to smart phones (what is the opposite of a digital native?, digital naives?). She also likes the smart watch just for the opposite reason than I do. I love the watch because it helps me to handle my message overload. My wife likes the watch because she gets such a little number of messages that she her phone is usually buried deep into her rucksack - therefore she frequently missed the few but important messages. Now she get's them in a convinient way without having to think about her smart phone anymore.

Lucius Bobikiewicz, 2016-02-14

I only know one person who wears a smartwatch, non-Apple, a nerd. I have never seen an Apple watch in the wild or any smartwatches on "normal" guys.

Oliver Regelmann, 2016-02-14

Wristband like Fitbit or Jawbone disappearing more and more. More and more Apple Watches appearing - at least 3 out of 4 family members wear one :-) In business meetings more Apple Watches - the higher in hierarchy you go, the more Apple devices on the table and on the wrist. Of course steel. Not alu.

There are some Pebble users in my closer work environment, IT dept, admins and Android lovers. They would never change to Apple Watch - religious reasons. Other way round the same.

Alexander Kluge, 2016-02-14

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