I have a confession to make—I like smartwatches. Not the janky ones that are little more than glorified fitness bands and cheaply made (to ether their own), but classier looking timepieces. It took some time for me to come around to them, as I didn't see the point in slapping a clock to my wrist when there's a smartphone in my pocket. But I did eventually came around. The same can't be said for Huawei CEO Eric Xu Zhijun, who quite frankly is not a fan of wearables.
"I am always confused as to what smartwatches are for when we have smartphones," Zhijun said during Huawei's Global Analyst Summit 2017 held in Shenzhen.
There is no doubt that Zhijun is not alone in his apathy towards smartwatches, but his candid honesty is refreshing. After all, Huawei has a vested interest in the smartwatch category and even just launched a new model, its second smartwatch to date. But while he is willing to indulge the market with a product that is in demand, he's simply not excited about the category. Oddly enough, that might work in Huawei's favor.
"Therefore, when the smartwatch team in Huawei presents their ideas to me with great excitement, I keep reminding them to consider whether there are tangible needs [for these products] in the market," Zhijun said during a Q&A sessions with analysts and reporters.
That approach to the category could lead to innovative features being added in, features that might win over skeptics who, like me, did not see the point in owning a smartwatch either. Huawei's latest wearable, the Huawei Watch 2, can swallow a SIM card so that users can dial up contacts and answers calls. It offers standalone 4G connectivity, so even if you want to ditch your phone for a spell for whatever reason—maybe you're going on a bike ride and don't want to have a pricey electronic device bouncing around your pocket—you can still make and receive phone calls.
As to the smartwatch category as a whole, it's not a booming market and perhaps might never be. According to IDC, global smartwatch shipments in all of 2016 reached 49.2 million units, up just a little from 48.7 million shipments from the year before.