Mobile gambling has exploded in popularity since hitting the scene in the late 1990s; new wearable devices like the Google Glass, Samsung Galaxy Gear and Apple iWatch have the potential to drive the industry forward once again.
Since the debut of the first slot machine in 1898 tech innovations have hit the gambling industry fast and hard, forcing gambling execs worldwide to get with the program or get out of the way. Obviously the big kicker was the internet; the first online casino launched in 1992 and the first mobile gambling app debuted in 1999, spawning the term “iGaming.” May the new wearable mobile device revolution mark the next technological shift in the gambling industry?
• New wearable mobile devices like the Google Glass, Galaxy Gear and iWatch have the potential to change the face of mobile gambling
• While the Apple iWatch looks to be a great smart watch, the device’s small screen could limit its popularity among gamblers
• Google Glass is expensive and currently has no gambling apps, but it has big potential as the next big iGaming platform
The fresh-from-the-oven Google Glass is one of the most talked about newbies on the tech scene today, being derided as much as celebrated. The device allows the wearer to take pictures or videos everywhere they go. While these days recording devices are used primarily for harmless things like making cat memes or taking drunken pictures of friends during a night out, many feel threatened by the potential invasion of privacy the Glass could cause. A recent survey found that 1 in 5 Britons favor banning the device altogether (granted, most of those polled had little knowledge about the device).
But the device does a lot more than record images. It has the potential to change the face of iGaming significantly. Gaming apps will be accessible via the Glass’s interface, allowing you to play while seemingly staring off into the distance. The device comes with a series of preinstalled mini games, and more will be downloadable. While no mobile casino software has been released for the Glass, you can be assured that they are in the pipeline.
The smart watch phenomenon
While Google Glass is the sexier and more controversial product, “smart watches” may be the devices that steal the limelight this year. Smart watches are (you guessed it) watches infused with all of the capabilities of smart phones, are the hottest trend in mobile technology this year. In early 2014 Samsung released the Galaxy Gear, which has generally been reviewed as a useful device but has taken flak for its clunky appearance. One great feature: it has a built in heart-rate monitor and step counter for the health-conscious among us. Smart watch detractors stick to two facts: they don’t do anything that smart phones can’t do, and they look awkward, whereas a watch is generally worn as a style piece.
The smart watch’s biggest advantage is that it’s not a phone. The Galaxy Gear can make calls and texts, and even less-sophisticated devices like the Meta allow you to access apps and information simply by lifting up your arm. As someone who fumbles around trying to get my phone out of my pocket and drops it regularly, this could be really useful. The Galaxy Gear currently suffers from a lack of available apps, but that goes with the new technology territory. Giving the massive volume of Android mobile gambling apps available on smart phones, we expect to see some to move over the Galaxy Gear soon.
Can the iWatch smash the competition?
Prior to this year smart watches were seen as too expensive, unattractive or unnecessary. The Galaxy Gear has won many over, but hasn’t established itself as a mainstay. Can the upcoming Apple iWatch impress where predecessors have failed? The iWatch has a much slimmer design than the clunky Galaxy Gear. Some may find it overly-futuristic, but there is no question that it is the most attractive smart watch design we’ve seen to date.
One advantage that Apple has in elevating wearables from curiosity to mainstay (and changing the way that we play mobile casino games) is the power of its brand. Apple is associated with both luxury and function, and its die-hards are always willing to pay a little more than what competitors charge. According to Marshal Cohen of Bloomberg: “An Apple watch could triple the size of the watch business in a year or two. They have the opportunity to get everyone that owns a cell phone to go out and buy another watch.”
Are wearables the next big gambling innovation?
It looks like wearable devices are here to stay. While no gambling apps have been released to date, they will be soon enough. But will this corner of the iGaming market be able to compete with smart phones or fixed online gambling? Given that stylistic factors demand that smart watches have smaller screens than most phones, the gambling apps may not be as convenient as those on other mobile devices. The Google Glass is currently too expensive (about $1500) to be more than an attention-grabbing luxury item, but it has more potential to attract mobile gamblers. As gambling apps come out and the price drops, it could become a big player in iGaming.