With Rumors Of Another Cellular-Capable Smartwatch, Let’s Hit The Brakes

OEMs, it’s time for a talk. I thought we could put this off for another few years, but it’s become apparent that, left to your own devices, you’re not going to wait. So we’ll have to do this now.

When a smartphone company sees dwindling growth potential and increasing performance and feature parity across a range of connected phone devices, and when customers and companies used to love each other very much but now seem to be growing apart, sometimes OEMs can panic and build something that they hope will reignite some passion, even though just below the surface it’s a very stupid idea.

That’s what’s happening with the Samsung Gear S, and what looks like might happen with an LG G Watch R2, which is rumored for introduction at CES (via MobileSyrup) this year. The publication reporting its existence also predicted the Gear S citing the same sources, a device which shares the same trick of on-board cellular connectivity, though the G Watch R2 will also reportedly offer 4G, rather than just 3G connectivity.

Here’s an idea of how LG could better spend its time: Not doing that. I realize the terror that must keep OEM execs awake at night related to not missing the next big boat in tech, but smartphones on the wrist is not that boat – missing this “trend” is more like missing the swan that runs along a set track through 3 inches of muck and discarded cigarette butts at the Love Tunnel ride down by the boardwalk, rather than missing the Mayflower on its voyage to the New World.

Smartwatches with built-in phone powers are not new, and will never be cool. Even as companion devices, they have limited value, but also making them smartphones actually adds an anti-feature: The need to secure and/or maintain a second cellular contract.

It’s still very possible this is just a baseless rumor, and LG will steer clear of this ‘nascent market.’ But there’s clearly something going round that’s giving some OEMs the idea it’s finally time for a watch phone to work. Please, take a step back and realize: It’s not that time.