March 18th, 2015

Apple Watch – Flip or Flop?

Why I Will Buy an Apple Watch and Then Give It Away

Full disclosure. After trying out at least 10 smartwatches for a week at a time I’m not a big believer in the utility of smartwatches. At the moment I’m wearing a Moto360 and it’s the best smartwatch I’ve experienced to date.

So what are the pros and cons, or flips and flops, of Apple Watch?

Flip

  • Beautiful design and hardware
  • Apple has done a smartwatch with better software than anyone else
  • There will be a thousand great apps available at launch
  • Apple has tried to focus on use cases that are really useful
  • It will be able to replace most existing health bands
  • Apple fan boys (and girls) will buy it as a gadget and fashion accessory

Flop

  • Same functionality/features as Android Wear and Pebble watches
  • Limited standalone functionality without a smartphone (e.g. GPS tracking for sports)
  • This is the first generation so just like with the original iPhone, it will take at least one more generation before it lives up to expectations
  • The price is high compared to similar spec Android smartwatches

Verdict
Apple Watch will be a success in terms of initial product launch and sales for Apple, while app developers and brands will compete to be the first to support it. However, I don’t think it will change the fact that watches have gone from providing time to being fashion objects, and the utility is not enough to justify charging and using it every day.

So why do I not believe in the Apple Watch and other smartwatches?

I’m an early adopter of all new technology whether it’s drones, phones or the latest headphones. But I’m also a believer in technology and gadgets making our lives better and easier. So far smartwatches don’t. There are a couple of really nice use cases of Android Wear that were also highlighted for Apple Watch including:

  • Notifications for communication events such as calls, Skype and SMS
  • Calendar reminders for meetings
  • Notifications from apps that are of high relevance such as taxi is arriving, flight is boarding, flight time change, there’s a competing bid on eBay, someone we know is nearby or you got a match on a dating site

The advantage is that these use cases benefit from a discrete vibration on your wrist so that you can keep your phone on silence and don’t have to peek at it every 10 seconds. In essence they could actually save you some time and distractions if configured correctly. On the other hand, looking at your wrist frequently is actually less socially accepted than looking at your phone nowadays.

The other use cases as highlighted by Apple and other smartwatch makers are using the watch for payments, as a key for your car, home or office and as a health tracker. The issue however is that I still have to carry my phone with me for the functionality to work. I simply don’t think it’s worth carrying two devices with the functionality of one.

Wearables including smartwatches will definitely succeed in the long term, but for now, smartwatches are unnecessary fashion gadgets.

Hopefully Apple will prove me wrong…

P.S. Second disclosure. We are currently developing Apple Watch apps for several of our clients and we’ve recommended this based on great use cases, PR value and insights, as well as competitive advantages that will be gained from customers by being first to market.

Tags: Android Wear Apple Watch Moto360 Pebble smartwatches wearables

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