Setting the iWatch bar

Earlier this year, Motorola ended its short stay with Google when it was sold to Lenovo.

TechCrunch has confirmed reports that Lenovo is buying Motorola Mobility from Google. This is the division within Google that the company purchased in 2011 for $12.5 billion. Motorola Mobility will go to Lenovo for $2.91 billion.

Lenovo-owned Motorola quietly released a smart-watch yesterday, the Moto 360. Everyone’s tastes differ of course, but for me, this is the watch that sets the bar for Android and for smart-watches. This is the watch that you should keep in mind when and if Apple announces an iWatch next Tuesday.

There are competing watches from Samsung, LG, and Pebble, and they all share a common Android heritage and a common design aesthetic. In my opinion, they are clunky and wrongly sized for most wrists.

The Moto 360 is the least objectionable of all the designs, and that’s the point. At a minimum, watches are supposed to tell the time and look good. All of the current smart watches tell the time quite well. None of them meet that second criteria.

When Apple first announced the iPhone, there were plenty of competing smart phones. All of them let you make phone calls and do things like send and receive email. That was the bar that Apple had to clear and they did it easily, leaving an entire industry in the dust.

Given how mature and well funded the industry has become, it is unlikely the iWatch can turn the smart-watch industry on its ear. But there is much room for improvement, both aesthetically and functionally. To me, the Moto 360 is the bar to clear. And it has obvious functional flaws (for example, the chopped area at the bottom of the watch face seems to be dead screen space) and suffers from the single wrist size problem (it’s way too big for anyone with small wrists). And the design is nice, but no competition to any of the higher end watches.

Still, the bar has been set. Watch the video embedded below to get a sense of the Moto 360. Looking forward to Tuesday.