i’mWatch I’m Not

At the 2012 International Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the i’mWatch was arguably one of the most lusted-after items on the show floor, perhaps only tempered by the $390 base-model price (our coverage on TECHNOGORILLA can be read at this link).  Featuring Italian design and a polished, iOS-inspired operating system, the company promised delivery in just a few months… a full year later, the i’mWatch made a public debut at the 2013 CES.

i'mWatch in silver and grey.
i’mWatch in silver and grey.

The i’mWatch is a beautiful piece of hardware, very nicely crafted and remarkably light for it’s visual bulk.  The details are very clean and it fits very nicely on the wrist (Ed. even smaller than average wrists like mine).  The user interface is just as beautiful as it appeared in the press releases, using familiar rounded-corner icons that might be a little too close to iOS icons for comfort.  Setup is fairly straight-forward, consisting of pairing the watch with a smartphone via Bluetooth and downloading data via a tethered connection — and that is where the i’mWatch crashes full-force into a concrete wall.  The tethered connection must be through the smartphone’s data plan, using it as a Bluetooth connection to a wireless hotspot, making synchronizing the i’mWatch data impossible without a tethering plan on the paired smartphone.

i'mCloud data notice.
The i’mWatch needs a tethered Bluetooth data connection to sync and won’t function without it.

All of those wonderful applications the i’mWatch promises are irrevocably chained to a cloud service (you guessed it: i’mCloud).  I asked an engineer at the i’mWatch booth during CES about this and was told that tethering was simply necessary and my comment that it was an odd requirement met with a bland stare and a remark about preferring Android anyway.

We contacted i’mWatch support to confirm that a tethered connection was absolutely necessary, trying to be a generous early adopter — our emails follow:

If I understand correctly the i’mWatch is completely unable to sync without tethering active.
Most carriers charge an extra fee for that capability — AT&T Mobility for example, charges $65 per month plus $10/GB after the first 5GB and that is only with a more expensive “business plan”.
If this is the case, then the i’mWatch has some very serious problems ahead of it in terms of market acceptance. Please reply as soon as possible.

The response from i’mWatch:

Dear Customer,
thank you for conacting [sic] us.
i’m Watch uses bluetooth and tethering. Without tethering, it cannot sync.
Feel free to conact [sic] us for any further question.
Kind Regards,
i’m Watch Staff

Really?  We just want to know if there is any way to sync i’mWatch without a substantial extra monthly fee to our mobile provider.  We followed-up the next day:

Is it possible to offer alternatives to tethered sync? Perhaps synchronizing when connected via the USB cable? With an option, the audience for an i’mWatch grows dramatically.

And their response:

Dear Customer,
thank you for conacting [sic] us.
Unfortunately there is currently no alternative to tethering.
Kind Regards,
i’m Watch Staff

Without the tethered data connection, the i’mWatch loses the great majority of it’s functions — leaving it with notifications for calls and text messages and, of course, the time (although you’re unable to install additional watch-faces).  Every other application, including email (i’mail), music (i’music), calendar, clients for Twitter (i’mTweet) and Facebook (i’mFB), a stock tracking application and a weather app, are simply non-functional.

Our conclusion: the i’mWatch is a sexy, elegant Italian supermodel who can only be smart and charming if you pay extra.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *