I recently posted a wish of mine, BlackBerry getting a smart watch by purchasing Kairos and making it their own. But, I don’t think BlackBerry should just stop at watches. I believe that they should have all sorts of smart wearables. The Kairos watch also has the option of providing a smart band, which makes any watch a smart watch. It also does health monitoring, which brings me to the Razer Nabu.
Razer provides gaming systems and peripherals, so they aren’t new to the tech community. So, unlike Kairos, they probably won’t make or break on a wearable. But, getting into the wearable market is tough, especially the smartband market when you have competitors like FitBit, Nike Fuelband and Jawbone Up. All three of these main competitors have multiple bands. And then there are companies like Polar (Loop) and Garmin (Vivofit, Vivosmart), who have other electronics, but are also getting into the smartband market. Getting noticed is not easy.
The Razer Nabu comes in two options, either the Nabu Social or the Nabu X. I noticed the Nabu about a year ago when I was interested in smartbands and which ones would be compatible with my BlackBerry Z30, which is now my wife’s phone. I found none, though there have been attempts to connect using Android apps. The original plan for the Nabu was to have a LCD or LED screen on both sides of the band. Now, it seems like the final solution is to have one band with an 2 line OLED screen and a second band with three LEDs for notifications. Hmmm… LEDs for notifications, sounds like a certain phone company’s claim to fame. The bands come with vibration, water resistance, 5-7 day batteries and band-to-band communication. It also has some health tracking features and, of course, is only available for Android and iOS. A current short coming of the band, in my humble opinion, is the lack of style. Now, it is a nice looking band by itself, but it is not the kind of band that you would take on a fancy dinner date, unless you wanted to look like a tech douche.
Garmin, FitBit and Jawbone have either accessories or bands that are meant to make the band look less utilitarian. I believe that the trend for smartbands and health monitors will continue down the road of making them look more appealing. I envision that they will eventually become like fashion accessories that people will switch out depending on their activity and outfit. Making the band easily switchable will be very important for future growth.
While the Razer Nabu might not be the best option for BlackBerry to get into the smartband market, I think it would be beneficial for both companies, either as an acquisition or partnership. For BlackBerry, it would give them a smartband with most of the kinks already worked out. All they need to do is make it work like a BlackBerry smartband would work. This means that they need to add built-in invocation from BB10. I know developers would love to have this, with maybe a quick NFC pairing of the smartband to the phone. As far as the rest of Razer’s lineup, well maybe there could be some useful combinations there, but they could be left as is and let Razer continue with high end gaming systems and peripherals. BlackBerry could also send the smartband specs over to Porsche Design and have them create a line of stylish smartbands to go along with the phones or standalone. For Razer, it would be a way to get more attention in order to stand out in the crowd. They would have the only BlackBerry compatible/native smartband and the only one receiving BBM messages. Which of course, BBM works with Google Wear, so the Razer Nabu could easily still support Android, iOS and Windows. Platform agnostic equality or something that John Chen mentioned. Add in a connection to BBM Protected and you have a warning if your phone is too far away.
There are all sorts of possibilities, but BlackBerry needs to take the step into the wearables market to get started.