I recently completed an in-depth study on the wearable technology market. As I dug into some of the key features as to why people bought or found usage value in their smartwatch or fitness tracker, the products with notification capabilities had this feature ranked high. As I thought more about this, I was struck by an observation.
If you recall in the early stages of the smartphone growth cycle, it was not uncommon to hear ringtones when you were out and about in public spaces. Most people had the same ringtone, which provided amusing scenarios where everyone reached for their smartphone. Today however, I can’t remember the last time I heard a ringtone in public. So I decided to test my theory through my broad consumer research panel.
I asked consumers how often their phone is on silent:
– 40% of smartphone owners said their smartphone is on silent ALL the time
– 29% said most of the day
– 18% said several times a week
– 11% said rarely
– 2% said never
This got me thinking. Many consumers have a product that provides simple notifications to the wrist. This feature may be more valuable and valued than they thought because so many people keep their phone on silent most of the time. Therefore, the value of the notification is enhanced due to the fact they often miss notifications because their phone buzzes instead of rings.
I’ve been adamant that, as of now, our market data suggest notifications are the killer app for wearables. This certainly will likely evolve. However, the silent phone dynamic being a reality in the mass market makes this single feature a bit more interesting to think through.