Companies were hiring engineers and computer experts to develop platforms where the next big app or social network will be built. They were going to evolve from smartphones and go from a nerdy dream to a mainstream reality. Unfortunately, nothing happened.
According to Steve Kovach of Business Insider, an opposite happened. The market for wearables has proven to be insanely volatile, claiming victims much faster than with the companies that went kaput following the introduction of the iPhone.
A few days ago, Pebble, the startup largely responsible for juicing interest in smartwatches back in 2012, sold itself to Fitbit for basically nothing. Its future products were canceled, and support for current products will end soon.
Then there's Android Wear, Google's operating system for smartwatches. Google had to delay the next version of Wear until 2017, and several partners have abandoned their plans to make new Android smartwatches this year. Motorola even said it halted its smartwatch plans indefinitely.
And there have been signs of struggle all across the industry from once-hot Jawbone to giants like Intel.
The smartwatch and other wearable gadgets have had more than enough time to prove themselves as major tech products, but the only companies seeing any kind of success are Apple and Fitbit. (Even then, Fitbit has had its own struggles since its entire business revolves around the shaky wearables market.)
Maybe it is time to face reality and admit that the gadgets the consumers got either didn't live up to that promise or failed to dazzle enough people to become major hits. At best, they're niche products, great for fitness gurus or geeks who like getting emails on their wrist.
The signs have been there from the beginning too. While Pebble had an impressive Kickstarter debut, it never sold enough watches to seep into the mainstream, only crossing the 1 million mark after about two years. Apple failed to adequately explain why it made a smartwatch and what it was for, only to pivot this year and focus on the Apple Watch's fitness-tracking capabilities instead. Fitbit has been a roller coaster of minor successes and major disappointments.