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A challenge of smartphones, a desperation of smart watches

Everyone has heard of a school of fish. Most people know there's also murder of crows.

To my knowledge, there's no collective noun for smartphones. Judging by this week's activity, days before Apple takes the wrap off the next iPhones, we can talk of a challenge of smartphones. I counted new models from Sony, Huawei, Motorola, Lenovo, Microsoft and Samsung all released in the space of four days. Maybe I missed some.

These also-ran smartphone makers raced to get their kit out before Apple sucks all the oxygen.

Sure some of the phones will be nice. Some will be innovative. A few will even be plausible choices. There will be good ideas among them. Few will be unusable or ridiculous.

Yet none of them will grab as much attention as Apple's next move. That would be every bit as true if Apple drops a clunker.

It's good that companies step up to the plate to compete in the phone market. Without viable rivals, Apple would just sit on its laurels. The market would stagnate.

Yet it's also worth remembering, few, if any, of these new models will be profitable.

All the above applies to the conga-line of smart watches that danced off various assembly lines this week. Outside of geek circles, the case for a smart watch is unproven. Early adopters tell me they are happy with wrist-top computers, but sales are well short of taking off. They're not even taxiing down the runway. They are somewhere in the security check line before entering the departure lounge.

There's a desperate, pleading feel to some of the smart watch press releases I've seen. It's sad.

Like the wanna-be smartphones, they'll get zero attention if Apple shows a wearable device next week. The same logic applies. Apple's smart watch could be appalling and it will still make news headlines.

By the end of the year there will be remainder bins full of smart watches in electronics stores. I'm not saying the smart watch will never take off. I am saying the current generation is for fringe dwellers. There's nothing wrong with buying one if you find such devices useful. But for most of us it's a case of move alone, nothing to see here.

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