News reports say that Sony wants to build a smartwatch to compete with Apple’s hot-selling Watch. While that should not come as a surprise– Sony has launched a number of non-competitive, unprofitable, and unpopular technology gadgets in recent years– what is a surprise is the way the company wants to finance development. Crowdfunding.
That’s right, crowdfunding, using Sony’s First Flight crowdfunding platform in Japan. In other words, Sony wants potential customers to help fund the development of Wena Wrist, a traditional looking watch with a short list of basic features, including an NFC wallet, notifications, and activity tracking. The watch looks interesting, of course, rather geeky, and most alerts will still need to be viewed on the attached smartphone.
This blatant attempt to get customers to pay for development of a new technology smacks of desperation. Sony is hurting, and the once reigning king of gadgets has fallen on hard times at the hands of Apple’s iOS devices and the Android hegemony.
Desperation is everywhere these days as Apple continues to blitzkrieg across multiple industries, disrupting major players and conquering the profits from smartphones and tablets, traditional PCs and smartwatches. Here’s my list.
Microsoft – Apple’s iPhone has become so successful that the Windows and Office maker has been forced to change the business model, give the OS away to stave off Chromebooks at the low end, and build and promote so-called hybrid notebook tablets which are little more than cheap notebooks without a keyboard. These are desperate days at Microsoft as the traditional PC business tumbles and the company’s presence in the mobile device arena remain negligible. Microsoft now sells their own branded hybrid devices. I’m sure competing manufacturers view that as friendly competition.
Samsung – The Korean technology conglomerate sells plenty of smartphones and tablets, but has failed to make inroads against Apple’s iPhone and iPad at the premium end of the product spectrum while losing marketshare and profitability at the low end, thanks to cheaper competitors, all of which carry the same Android OS as the pricey Galaxy line. Samsung has resorted to copying Apple designs wherever possible and has unleashed a flood of products while profits continue on a multi-year decline. The company stole trade secrets from a Taiwanese chip maker to get a leg up on new chip business from Apple.
Google – Like Microsoft, the search engine giant is highly profitable, but the mobile segment depends far too much on Apple’s iOS devices for nominal revenue and meager profits; while traditional search engine advertising has stalled as users look for more ways to block obtrusive advertising. Android is a big hit with device manufacturers, but the investment the company has made in pushing cheap devices has yet to translate into a measurable ROI.
HTC, Motorola, and Friends – Alright, the rest of the technology industry isn’t made up of friends, but if misery loves company, then those companies are in the same boat, a leaking boat heading downstream toward the rapids and waterfalls brought about by Apple’s dominance in their respective industries.
That explains why Android exists (and why Google’s engineers started over after viewing the first iPhone). That explains why Microsoft is giving away Windows and making their own hybrid devices. That explains why Samsung wants to build a competitor to Android (to gain control and differentiation; just like Apple). That explains why all these major smartphone makers are pushing less expensive products into lesser developed countries in the hopes of gaining a beachhead to compete with Apple.
Desperate times require desperate measures.