Would this gadget make your life better – or worse?

Before we get started today, I just wanted to let you know that Eoin Treacy’s Bull Market Climax summit is now live.

In this presentation he lays out his stock market “melt up” idea that I have been writing about this week and gives you an opportunity to make a 306% return.

You can watch it here.

Now on with today’s issue…

Smartphones changed everything.

They changed everything for users.

They changed everything for manufacturers.

And they spawned a whole new industry of app makers that now brings in over $1.3 trillion per year.

Until Apple cracked the smartphone concept, we would routinely carry around a music player, a camera, a street map… and a mobile phone.

The idea of carrying around a street map sounds ridiculous now. But I remember many of my friends telling me that when they first moved to London they would not leave the house without one.

You don’t see many guide-book holding tourists around either. They are all glued to their smartphones.

Now that smartphone demand has begun to level out, Apple, Google, Samsung et al have been on the hunt for their next superstar gadget.

And what did they settle on?

The smartwatch.

Yeah, the smartwatch. It’s just not very exciting, is it?

The thing about smartwatches is they basically just do everything your phone does, but badly.

You can see your new messages on the tiny screen. You can even type on it, using super precise finger movements. You can browse the internet and look at tiny, tiny maps.

They question is, why on earth would you want to?

Well, it turns out quite a few people did want to. Smartwatches have been making steady sales over the last few years.

Global smartwatch sales 2014-2018 (in millions)

Source: Statista

As you can see above, the demand for smartwatches has almost doubled in the last year alone.

The question is, why?

Well, when smart watches first launched, essentially none of their “smart” features worked unless they were connected to your phone.

However, many of this year’s models can connect to cellular networks and so can work on their own.

But in what circumstance would you want to have your smartwatch on you and not your phone?

The main one would be for sports.

If you’re a runner or a swimmer, it is genuinely much better to use a watch to keep track of your training than your phone.

In fact, I don’t even know if it’s possible to get accurate swimming tracking on your phone.

Smartwatches save lives

Another big market smartwatches have an advantage in is in “health tracking”. Because they are on your wrist at all times, they can also track your heartrate at all times. And your sleep. And your heart rate during your sleep.

And these aren’t just arbitrary features. They can be genuinely useful. You may have heard one of the many stories about Apple watches alerting people to unknown heart conditions.

Here’s one the Independent reported on in May:

An Apple Watch might have saved a man’s life after it alerted him to the fact that his heart wasn’t beating properly.

Kevin Pearson, a 52-year-old from Cockermouth in the north of England, was quietly sat reading a book and “minding my own business” when his watch alerted him to the fact that something was very wrong with his heart. It was beating as fast at 161bpm despite the fact he was sat down doing very little, it said – suggesting that he could be having a heart attack.

Luckily, and by complete coincidence, Mr Pearson was already at the hospital. He had been taking his father there for an appointment, so got the attention of a nurse to ask about what his Apple Watch was showing.

“I said ‘it’s possibly just my watch that’s wrong but can you have a look?'” Doctors immediately told him that there did appear to be something wrong – atrial fibrillation, where the heartbeats fast and irregularly – and that more needed to be done.

Stories like this pop up all the time. So there is something to be said for the health monitoring side of smartwatches.

However, are they really ever going to be as big a seller as smartphones? And the bigger question is, are they making our lives better or worse?

We are living through a backlash against many aspects of our tech-centred culture. I wrote a bit about this in my van life article last week.

Many people are opting for a simpler life, with fewer meaningless distractions.

Companies are being encouraged to stop contacting workers outside of normal working hours.

And the endless hunt for likes on social media has been shown as massively detrimental to happiness and to encourage feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Smartwatches seem to go against this backlash. They encourage you to be “always on”, always logging stats, always available and always connected to a world of social media strangers.

So, I’m not really sure how I feel about smartwatches.

My old running watch used to track my sleep and it was terrifying.

Looking back over the week’s stats seeing you’ve only averaged five or six hours’ sleep a night doesn’t lead to better sleep. In my experience, it leads to stress over not sleeping enough, and in turn even less sleep.

Is there a genuine appeal for these watches, or is it simply the marketing machine leading us to believe there is? Let me know: harry@southbankresearch.com

Last year a guest on Tim Ferriss’ podcast who calls himself Mr Money Moustache summed up my thoughts on smartwatches – and a lot of things in life – pretty well.

“Happiness is achieved not by adding positives to your life, but by removing negatives,” he said.

And I think that’s very true.

But at the same time, my watch broke last week and I am very tempted to replace it with a smartwatch and get back to stressing about my sleep.

Until next time,

Harry Hamburg
Editor, Exponential Investor

PS If you missed Eoin Treacy’s Bull Market Climax summit yesterday, you can still watch it here. In this presentation he outlines the stock market “melt up” ideas I was talking about in this week’s Exponential Investor emails and shares an opportunity that could make you a 306% gain.

Category: Robotics

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