Smartwatches pose real estate challenges, says Sony CEO

"The jury is still out on what the consumer expects from a wrist device," acknowledges Sony's Kazuo Hirai.

Sony's smartwatch.
Sony's smartwatch. CNET

What do consumers want out of smartwatches? How big or small should a watch be? These are just two of the many questions facing smartwatch makers, according to Sony CEO Kazuo Hirai.

Chatting with reporters on Friday, Hirai said that smartwatch technology will be constrained by how big a watch people are willing to wear, according to The Wall Street Journal.

"The jury is still out on what the consumer expects from a wrist device," Hirai said, according to the Journal. Given a choice, would people choose greater battery life for limited capability or greater capability for limited battery life? How big a watch consumers will tolerate is still unclear, he added.

That limitation sets them apart from smartphones, which have continually shifted in size and can be stuffed in a pocket or purse. Smartwatches also work in tandem with smartphones, meaning people will have to carry both with them. That could present another obstacle as users try to bounce from one device to the other.

"I look at it like a real estate business because you have limited real estate to establish your beachfront, but if you do, then the barrier to entry is very high," Hirai said. "Once you're committed to a particular product then I don't know if you want to be switching all the time."

Sony offers a smartwatch, dubbed SmartWatch 2 , which pairs with compatible smartphones to receive alerts of new e-mails, phone calls, and other updates. The electronics giant is competing in the nascent market against Samsung's Galaxy Gear, the Pebble Watch, the Martian Passport Watch , and other devices. Ongoing reports and rumors say that Apple will launch its own iWatch sometime next year.

About the author

Journalist, software trainer, and Web developer Lance Whitney writes columns and reviews for CNET, Computer Shopper, Microsoft TechNet, and other technology sites. His first book, "Windows 8 Five Minutes at a Time," was published by Wiley & Sons in November 2012.

 

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