Opinion piece by techradar Associate Editor of Wearables, Lily Prasuethsut
Samsung's Gear S2, the Huawei Watch, Asus ZenWatch 2 and a new Moto 360 are part of this week's massive smartwatch dump, and it looks like they're all absolute beauties. Most will even release with several different iterations for wrist sizes, fitness or the high-end.
But one smartwatch has dropped my jaw for a completely different reason. While most everyone is ooh-ing and ahh-ing, I'm in shock and slightly livid reading the name for one of Moto's new wearables: Moto 360 for Women.
Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled that these companies releasing second-generation watches actually learned from the first round and decided to create better-fitting wearables for wrists of all sizes, while being more inclusive towards women. In fact, there are even more options for women than for men when it comes to customizing the new Moto 360. Still, a watch moniker deemed "for Women" is not what I expected nor wanted.
Why this naming convention is problematic
"Moto 360 for Women" harkens back to the naming conventions of classic analog watches, the ones you find behind the counter at Tiffany's or Bloomingdales. There are watches labeled explicitly for "him" and ones for "her," with the latter being more petite and designed with smaller bands, lugs, watch faces and so forth, usually adorned with diamonds or other "feminine" elements.
Understandably, to sell watches to a demographic other than men, marketing teams must think differently: What would women want to buy? Apparently it's diamonds and fluff accompanied by smaller components for thinner wrists - which is fine if that's what you like.
The predicament becomes more complicated when you add in new technology, but the question is the same: What would women want to buy? It seems like a Moto 360 for Women is what Motorola came up with in order to mimic the classic analogs designated for each sex.
But the Moto 360 is a smartwatch, not an analog watch. It's chock-full of technology from 007 movies and your wildest sci-fi dreams, packing enough functionality to nearly replace your phone.
It's better than Tiffany's run-of-the-mill baubles, and companies like Motorola should be celebrating its engineering team's genius by setting a new standard, not following old conventions.
There's no doubt smartwatches are advanced pieces of tech angled with fashion in mind, but wearables are first and foremost technology at the frontline of change. Even fashion has dared to set new standards by breaking out of the norm. There's no reason for the Moto 360 to pander to consumers with a gender constrictive name.
What works, then?
Many may take umbrage with this, but it must be mentioned: Apple's method of branding works. For as long as I can remember, Apple has strayed from gender and instead released products that just are. It continues with a line of Apple Watches that are simply available in different sizes and different colors. That's it. No limiting "for women" or "for men" labels.
From neon pink to rose gold or the Milanese loop, there is nothing to suggest only men or women can buy just one type of design - specifically, the stereotypically feminine colors aren't offered in only the smaller 38mm band size, suggesting they're only for women. Men with smaller wrists or women with larger wrists have an ample, open selection.
Moto offers its collection with watch bodies that come in 42mm - 46mm sizes paired with bands ranging in size from 16mm - 22mm. Of course, all the bands are interchangeable - so why mark them for a specific gender? Why not just list the sizes and different designs then let the user have at it?
Maybe, just maybe, this is one reason why Apple is such a successful company. Or maybe it's that Apple is cognizant enough to realize it's a leading technology brand and, for better or worse, has the power to influence and change society.
It may sound like I'm making a mountain out of a molehill, but when it comes down to it, making products for women doesn't have to literally say "for women." Smartwatch designs shouldn't be separated by gender. Rather, it's a question of what will fit and what will feel comfortable, regardless of gender.
Technology based companies are forward thinkers, always looking towards the future. It's time to break some walls and be a pack leader, Motorola, not look backwards or mimic old brands - that's just a poor attempt to sell smartwatches to smart women.