The iWatch could destroy Apple

March 6, 2013

Apple+iWatch

The rumor mill is alive and well, churning out tidbits regarding Apple and their new smartwatch. It would be a big gamble, and a segment of the market that is unproven. It’s Apple, so we know it will be good hardware, but it could be a disaster in every other sense. Do consumers even want an iWatch? We don’t know what we want yet; Apple hasn’t told us.

 What’s an iWatch?

We don’t know anything solid, but the little we do know suggests one thing: Apple is serious about having wearable technology on the wrist. Stories of a revamped iOS for the smaller screen seem legitimate, and there is allegedly a small army working on the device. It’s hard to think Apple would invest all that time, effort, and resource into a mere project. Even Foxconn, Apple’s chinese manufacturing partner, is saying Apple has approached them about specs for an iWatch.

As I write this, we know next to nothing about an actual, working model. What we’re sure of is that Apple is keen to be first to the market with a really good device, which is their preferred method for entering a sector. For now, all we know a device is being imagined within Apple, and it seems nearly ready to launch.

Pebble

Why it could work

Smartwatches exist, they’re just not very good or popular. The most common of the lot, the Pebble, is extremely rudimentary and crude. Handy, sure, but not a deal maker. The smartwatch still needs to tether to a device like a smartphone, meaning it’s really there as a means of convenience. For most, the cost/benefit ratio is too skewed to purchase one. A great toy for the tech addicted, but not something most see a lot of benefit in.

This gap in the market is glaring. We have toys, but no devices. Apple usually comes to market with great pieces of hardware, backed up by some very solid software. If they’re truly rebuilding iOS to work on the small screen, Apple will have defined smartwatches. It’s not wearable tech that turns us off, it’s functionality. Apple has a knack for identifying needs in the market, and fulfilling those needs nicely. If they can do that with an iWatch, they’ll have our attention once again.

Sony-SmartWatch-2

The issues

Where to begin?! We’re talking about a smartwatch, first of all. There is no proven market for them… just those who like new toys to tinker around with. There is also no demand, as wearable technology in general is a radically new concept. It’s a tough road to travel, especially if you’re trying to set the pace.

What is the point?

Many of us don’t see a point to smartwatches right now. We get updates, check email, and control our music… but that’s about it. They’re not standalone devices, so they hold no true merit. Unless Apple has some ace up their sleeve, we’ll get the same overblown claims of “reinvention” with nothing to back it up. I don’t care much for how stylish the device is or isn’t, as that’s all subjective, but the functionality has to be sublime.

The watch is not enough

If (and that’s a big if) Apple comes through, and gets cellular functionality in the watch, it still won’t be enough. A data plan for the watch makes it better, and actually smart, but a smartwatch has other failings. If you believe Sergey Brin about smartphones being emasculating, just try staring at a tiny watch. Then try hacking out an email on it. Tell me how you feel then. We need something else to go with it, like Google Glass. The combination of the two would be amazing. Expensive, but amazing.

Expectations

It’s Apple, it’s a new product, and it’s highly anticipated. Our expectations are through the roof for them. If it doesn’t have holograms or spew candy, we’re going to hate it. That’s a problem with our perception, but one Apple has created. Time and again they inform us how they have reinvented or otherwise radically changed something, even when it was a minor upgrade.

The iPod set a standard. The iPhone set a standard. This iWatch must do for its genre what those devices did for theirs. The iPod just about killed CDs, and the iPhone ushered in a new era of smartphone functionality. When Apple swings, they tend to hit home runs… so the iWatch will have to be a big hit.

steve jobs

Steve Jobs

This is the elephant in the room nobody is addressing, so I’ll feed him some peanuts. An iWatch would represent the first major new product since Jobs’ passing, and the first being sold to us from the start by Tim Cook. Say what you like about him, but Steve Jobs had a flair for this… a certain humanity to him, backed by a fervent belief in what he was saying that shone through. Steve was different… love him or hate him, he was great for Apple.

Tim Cook isn’t like Steve Jobs, and never will be. I’m sure he has his strengths, but it’s nearly impossible to follow Steve Jobs, especially when it comes down to making a presentation. If Tim Cook can’t muster some good ‘ol fashioned charisma, the iWatch may be doomed.

4.0.1

The Apple niche theory

There is a trend Apple tends to follow. It happened with the PC market, and it’s happening with smartphones. The portable music player is becoming less necessary or important, but they followed a similar arc there, as well. Apple may, in many respects, be a one trick pony.

Let’s take the PC market as our example. While they may not have technically created the PC, they definitely made it mainstream. They made affordable, cool computers that gave consumers exactly what they wanted. We all clamored to get one, and they were flying off the shelves. There was a computer in just about every home, and plenty in our schools, all thanks to Apple.

With the rise of Microsoft, Apple’s market share began to dwindle. There wasn’t much they could do about it, either. They were a self-contained company, controlling all aspects of the device. Microsoft simply put their OS on any computer that wasn’t Apple, paving the way for control of the market. As Microsoft grew, Apple was relegated to a small portion of the market they (in many ways) created.

Apple has a propensity to just blow up a sector of the market, then retreat to a niche within it. Their products are always superb, but they don’t have the innovation to stay ahead of the pack. The iWatch would probably be no different. Unless Apple owned just about every patent necessary for smartwatches to be great, there’s no reason to believe this trend would change.

Watch this

If Apple does come to market with an iWatch, it could be groundbreaking. Like all their other devices, it will likely set the standard for the market. We’ll probably ooh and aah, then curiously make our way to the Apple store.

After the initial curiosity… we’ll look for an Android alternative. If it’s not there, we’ll wait for one, or simply give up on them and wait for Google Glass. Nothing about this particular device will make anyone feel as though they need it, much less jump ship to Apple. Unless this alleged device is somehow a game changer, we’ll be left to criticize Tim Cook’s leadership again. We can’t imagine how a smartwatch would be a must-have device, and that’s what Apple banks on… that we’ll “need” their stuff.

CEO-APPLE-TIM-COOK-COM-GOLDWOOD-2

Conclusion

Make no mistake, an iWatch would be a do-or-die moment for Apple. This is the first huge project without Steve Jobs, and a market that is just beginning to blossom. In just about every way, this is Apple’s time. The iTV concept seems to have been shelved, making the iWatch a new focus for Apple enthusiasts.

Stock prices have been dropping steadily for Apple, and their product line has stagnated. For the past year or two, we’ve been getting humdrum products and minor OS upgrades. Nothing revolutionary, or even timely, has come from Apple in quite some time. For the first time in a long time, it feels like Apple needs us more than we want them.

The company line you’ll hear from Apple is “we’re in it for the long haul.” That’s a great way to shut people up for a limited time, but unless we start seeing some actual innovation from Cupertino, there may not be a long haul. We like having Apple around, but unless they come through on this iWatch concept, iDon’t see the honeymoon phase lasting much longer for Tim Cook.

Comments

  • Sean Quinlan

    Put me in the “I don’t see the point” group.

    • Rob C
      • Gridlock

        2007 if you got a SonyEricsson bluetooth watch. And if you did, you’d know why a connected watch (the old ‘sleek’ argument) is so bloody brilliant.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=592707047 Simon Craddock

      that makes two of us, besides my current watch looks sophisticated, is functional (tells the time reliably) and the battery lasts approx 2 years. Pointless gadget purely for the Apple brainwashed cult

      • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

        Look at you, all panicked and defensive about a product that isn’t even fvcking real.

    • http://soupisgoodfood.net soupisgoodfood

      Think fitness or medical accessory, for one. Could tell your heart rate. Apple could take this in all kinds of directions depending on what they think most people are going to use it for.

      Some strange people still like to wear a watch, even though they have a smartphone. They may like this, as design-wise, it’s going to be as good as (although, very different from) any high-end watch, not some bulky, nerdy looking thing. I guess getting notifications without having to take your smartphone out of your pocket could be handy at least some of the time.

      I can’t see me wearing anything like that all the time, but I can definitely see uses for it.

      Perhaps people who don’t see the point in a product that has yet to be invented simply don’t have a very good imagination?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=696761688 Justin Rebar

    Would rather buy a real wrist watch. I have a phone that does everything these smart watches do…

    • mikedg

      Doesn’t that mean you have a phone that does everything a real watch does?

    • http://twitter.com/_JulianoRossi Juliano R Oliveira

      You also have a laptop/desktop that does pretty much everything a tablet does. So, I think you don’t have a tablet too, right?

      • Donnell Johnson

        The point I think everyone is missing is that tablets bring convenience. Yes you computers can do everything a tablet can, but it’s no where near as portable. And sure a phone can do everything a tablet can, but the screen size makes using it long term a hassle. So there was a space for tablets. But smart watches, and not just this iWatch, but I mean all of them in general don’t offer anything that is more convenient then what we already have. To begin with, if they need a phone to work, then why not just use your phone. IF you want to quickly check the site, listen to music, or even check the time, your phone is just in your pocket most of the time and it doesn’t seem like it is to much work to pull it out real quick. The watch isn’t that much faster and if it is tethered to your phone you are just draining battery faster. But let’s say that it doesn’t need a phone to work, that it will have it’s own data plan. We already don’t like having to pay for 2 data plans for a phone and a tablet. Why would we want to play for a 3rd (or even just a 2nd if you don’t use a tablet) to gain nothing you can’t already do just as easy with you phone or tablet. To me I just don’t see any market for a smartwatch, something that will offer a smaller screen then a phone, harder less input then a phone, and at the end of the day is not easier to use the phone. The fact of the matter is that phones were already replacing the normal watch as the primary way of checking time these days, I don’t know why a smartwatch would really offer anything. The only way I see them working out is if they don’t cost that much, but that seems unlikely since they will still be tiny computers. Time will tell, but unless Apple (or anyone who wants into the smartwatch industry for that matter) has other features or ways that the smartwatch can be different/better than smartphone, I just don’t see them currently going anywhere. Once technology moves farther on, maybe we can revisit this idea.

  • Mike Bastable

    Nate:
    Good article but you skirt around an issue here. The iPad. Apple did not invent this market. They waited, saw others fail…took the time to make a decent is and end product and thus. RE-defined and reinvigorated acting market segment. I think the I watch was a previous iPod nano. I believe Apple will launch a wearable product that will coordinate many platforms into one unit enhancing the user experience across their range and also into new areas. I expect them to defines new category of consumer product. Fully automated data collation and dissemination and distribution. Imagine a GPS wearable checking prices online in a shop and negotiating the best price with the shops database…paying for it etc etc. Google glass will also define a new area of tech . I think after a period of Google/apple product convergence we are gonna see 2 distinct wearables emerge and diverge. It should get interesting very quickly.
    So all in all, the i- whatever will surprise us by NOT being a watch.

    • kascollet

      Visionary. Steve, is it you ?
      :-)

      • Mike Bastable

        Lol or were u being mean…

        • kascollet

          Just kidding bro (and actually proud it made you smile !).

  • abis866i

    Apple is an experience not a state of the art technology so it will survive another map quake…

  • jay

    i’m not an apple fan,(I haven’t owned a single apple product in my life) i am samsung note II fan.. at the same time, i do think apple’s iWatch will blow up. yes there isn’t any proven market yet, but that is what apples does alot.. reinvent what someone else is doing.. make it big where it was small, but with bunch of new ideas in it. the reason why this will work is that, success of these stuff doesn’t have much to do with people.. but it has to do with people behind the scene that are controlling everything. those who control the media, stock, and etc. these superpowers are the one who dictates what will work. if this is true, apple’s iWatch will be a success.

  • MrMLK

    Wow, you could take this article, replace all of the “iWatches” with “iPads” and references to smartwatches with tablets, and it would be exactly the same as a whole bunch of articles that came out three years ago.

    And we all know how well that turned out. The iPad was a mere blip before it was totally destroyed by all those Android tablets. Oh wait, it wasn’t.

    While the success of the iWatch isn’t a forgone conclusion, its going to take more than an extremely biased piece like this one to convince me of it.

    • Lowry Brooks

      Android tablets are still ultimately a failure.

  • Michael Misch

    If they can find a way to either compliment or improve your smartphone, (or both, ideally) and the experience on it; this would definitely soar above a mere niche-kind of market. That being said, who can tell what ideas they will implement out of the box?

  • Michael Shaw

    As much as I hate to say it, Apple has a way of making products that seem useless a huge need for the everyday consumer. So iWatch might blow up. Buuuuut, like this article said, other OSs will pick it up and begin to take over.

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      Like everything, it’s about what it does. The ignorant get hung up on MHZ and buzzwords while all along, the hardware, the fit and finish isn’t even half of it. It’s great to have slick hardware but if the OS is a grab bag of hurt (looking at you, most versions of Android) the hardware is irrelevant.

  • Hyperion

    Get a grip, man. You are freaking Android Authority and yet doesn’t realize that android counterpart to this crap DO exists.

  • tim rules

    fvck steve “blow” jobs ! fvcken thieve.

  • tim rules

    i didn’t know people still wore watches, but then again iFags are….

    • Joshua Percell

      I wear a watch. I’m not an “iFag” as you put it. The only i-device I own is an old 4GB iPod nano 3rd gen. I don’t use it anymore.

    • Vboom

      “I didn’t know people still wore watches” is the dumbest comment in this thread yet.

  • supermand_dad

    Am I am androidauthority.com right????

  • supermand_dad

    Meant to say I am on androidauthority.com right?

    • Mike Reid

      Am are you.

  • Johnny Hilderbrands

    I didn’t realise AA was a forum for the luddites, when are we going to protest the big metal monster that is the Airplane?

    Kidding to an extent but seriously is it not obvious wearable technology is the next big thing. It seems like a big Monty Python slap in the face with a big fish obvious to me.I don’t understand peoples denial that a smart watch is not only functional and useful but cool. I can bet in 2 years time you’ll think of them in the same way as web on your phone, required.

    I own a Sony smart watch and it was £80 which is nothing and it vibrates when I get stuff like email or SMS and I can read the stuff and I can control music dial out etc etc. When people see me do this they are blown away, friends have bought 5 so far! And that’s just me no apple marketing no apple design. Trust me, get it out there and people will buy it. Make it simple and good looking and everyone will buy it!

    Finally I am utterly perplexed by people complaining about pairing to their phones. Are you actually joking???? You carry around a fully functional on average for techies 1 – 2 GB memory device and you think the best way to utilise that is to have external devices like a watch or glass be stand alone? Or maybe you want connected to your phone but with an internet connection, I don’t know but its all stupid. I consider my device an extension of my phone a remote screen if you will and having it Bluetooth pair to the phone as a central unit makes perfect sense. To me at least!

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      when are we going to protest the big metal monster that is the Airplane?

      I LOL’d.

  • bilal

    Shitty crappaple

    • Nat5150

      Nice to see the Android sites never really change. Dumb articles trolling for links and even dumber commenters calling Apple names.

      Don’t ever change, Android fans.

  • carlisimo

    The article seems to be at odds with its title… which is pretty over the top.

  • Jon

    I’m a moron I’ll pay for a new product that really doesn’t do anything and yes I’ll pay for the next model each year that doesn’t really do much more than the model the previous year. Oh and put me down for that new type of connector cable that has a different connector.

    Or rather not. I’d sooner slit my own throat.

    Apple, go away and take the cretins that blindly support you with you.

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      Oh, and this doesn’t apply to any other product on the planet? Obviously you’ve never seen the upgrade hamster wheel PC gamers are on regarding desktops.

      Retard.

  • nishantsirohi123

    an ipod nano 6th generation with a watch strap
    wallah you got an iwatch
    the isheep will start ejaculating

    • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

      Obviously you’ve never seen the dorks jizzing in their pants over Google Glass.

      Are you so ignorant of the world that you think that Apple is the only one with dedicated fan boys? Give your head a shake.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=9351324 Ed Zitron

    what is an iphone

  • Space Gorilla

    Congrats Nate! You win the Internet today!

  • http://www.tumblr.com/blog/his-divine-shadow His Shadow

    Make no mistake: penning retarded articles about Apple’s future based on a product that doesn’t even qualify as a rumour is the sure sign of a hit whore hack.

    This is the first huge project without Steve Jobs,

    You are a moron.

  • rj

    “For the past year or two, we’ve been getting humdrum products and minor OS upgrades.”

    Apart from the Retina iPad, iPad mini, Retina MacBook Pro and iPhone 5?

    • http://www.facebook.com/wanderingg.bearr Wandering Bear

      I agree with the author.

      Retina Ipad: The Pre-retina ipad was pretty sharp, so not much diff for the average user.

      Ipad mini: Same tech, just a slightly smaller screen

      and so on.

      The IPhone 5 is pretty much an IPhone4s, which was pretty much the IPhone 4. (for real-world use)

      The first Iphones were brilliant, the Ipad was brilliant implementation of ideas that others had failed at. These were all amazing implementations brilliant ideas that took courage to try out on people used to dumbphones. But nothing new, revolutionary, ground-breaking, or innovative has come out of the Apple doors since the Jobs days.

      I am not trying to troll here either as I’ve been an Apple fan as long as there has been an Apple.

      But I agree that we haven’t seen much in the way of real innovation since the Jobs days. A different size screen? An OS that just makes it easier to buy more stuff? The same phone with a slightly sharper screen? These really are not innovative leaps, just crawling along while competitors take chances with real innovation.

      I bought my first non-apple smartphone recently and am reminded every time I use it about what Apple used to be.

      • rj

        “These really are not innovative leaps, just crawling along while competitors take chances with real innovation.”

        Such as?

        Each of the products I mentioned is the best in the world in its category, and only the truly deluded could consider them to be “humdrum”. Sure, maybe the iPhone 5 isn’t as big a leap over the 4/4S as the 4 was over the 3G/3GS. But its still the best phone available. The iPad mini might be the “same tech”, but its pretty much universally acclaimed as the best small tablet (the Kindle HD and Nexus 7 are solid competitors from a value point of view, but almost nobody would argue they’re straight up better). The Retina MacBook Pro has no peer, at any price.

        Samsung might be a good “fast follower”. Google has some interesting stuff in the Nexus line. Amazon is good at making inexpensive stuff that is “good enough” for many. But when it comes to hardware, they’re all still chasing Apple.

        “But nothing new, revolutionary, ground-breaking, or innovative has come out of the Apple doors since the Jobs days.”

        You do realize the “Jobs days” ended less than a year and a half ago, right?

      • http://soupisgoodfood.net soupisgoodfood

        Truly innovative leaps are not going to happen every year. Jobs was around when the iPod came out. Think how long it was between then and when the iPhone came out. You’re being unrealistic.

  • James Rogers

    A linkbaiting Android troll. Wow. How brilliantly original. Unless Apple stands to lose $137 BILLION (their current cash position) on this venture, then I don’t think even a horrible failure of a new product will be sinking the company. Considering how well their new hardware ventures have performed over the last 10 years, I’d say that possibility is right down there with finding an objective Android fan site.

    If you are going to troll, you really need to come with more than this.

  • kascollet

    “Do consumers even want an iWatch? We don’t know what we want yet; Apple hasn’t told us.”
    This sentence made me quite sad.

  • stevesup

    hahahahahahahah

  • kascollet

    “The iPod set a standard. The iPhone set a standard. ”
    Seems like you forgot the iPad Nate.

  • Frank Wolfson

    What happens if Apple doesn’t release an iWatch? The shares will fall because someone with a lot of time to spare decided to create a new product for the company. I just love this all thing :-D

  • http://www.acid-product.co.uk Ian Davies

    Make no mistake, an iWatch would be a do-or-die moment for Apple

    The only thing being destroyed around here is your credibility, by making such stupid statements that are completely removed from reality.

  • Mark Mann

    apple creates market where there is none…i don’t see how the iwatch will kill apple, or even hurt apple in the least…yes, it’ll take maybe a year or two to catch on, but apple will take that time to work out the kinks, and then everyone will want one…i’m not apple fan, but i am not naive enough to think that apple will make a bad decision, and i also realize that without apple, we’d still be checking our e-mail sitting at a desk in front of a computer

  • http://www.facebook.com/mohd.danial.75 Mohd Danial

    uhm… lol.,?… ipod nano 6th gen was an iwatchz till it was replaced by the ridiculous 7thgen ipod nano which is unwearable to the wrist.

    • Kevin

      still didn’t have bluetooth or wifi or ability to sync spotify songs for when you went on a run.

  • lucascott

    What a pile of trash. Starting with the presumption of dumping on a product that is just a rumor at this point. But if true was likely started years ago by Steve Jobs. Tech moves slow. We might not see the first non Steve Jobs product for another decade.

    ANd who says that Apple needs to poop out something brand new every year or two or they are done. Perhaps their true innovation is not releasing something just to say they released something

  • http://soupisgoodfood.net soupisgoodfood

    This article is so stupid, I don’t know where to begin. I mean, you guys are obviously bias, but that doesn’t mean you have to produce utter BS, you know. You can be bias towards a product and be rational.

    I’m so sick of authors who are no better than the average comment poster (me included). Guess I should stop complaining and setup a blacklist for sites that post idiotic linkbait.

    “We don’t know what we want yet; Apple hasn’t told us.” has to be the pull-quote from this article.

  • Kevin

    If they make a watch that has wifi and bluetooth and can install apps such as spotify which can then sync offline, it would make a perfect watch for runners and the like.

    I use runtastic a lot and use spotify on my phone to sync the songs just in case i lose signal while i’m out and about (or pocketcasts). If i could have that running on a watch and the music/podcast working through my bluetooth headphones, I’ll have one, actually probably 2! If it does more than that then great, but thats all I want – nothing seems to give that at the minute. (feel free to prove me wrong)

    The old square nano came close but 1. didn’t have bluetooth 2. didn’t allow spotify to install and sync songs to.

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