The potential of the iWatch


I think the iWatch is real, but not in the way everyone thinks.

Apple, of course, has continued to iterate on the iPhone and offers an exceptional product. And some may feel that they are still far ahead of their competition, but others would argue that others (mostly Samsung) have closed the gap enough that consumers don’t feel they are making too much of a tradeoff going with another phone. What did Apple do with the iPod when competitors started coming out with iPod clones (or close enough)?  They launched the iPod mini, then nano, then touch. At each of the launches, pundits questioned the wisdom of cannibalizing their flagship product. Each ultimately these ended up being the best-selling products for Apple. They disrupted their own business.

I do think Apple is creating an “iWatch,” but not in the way most are assuming, i.e., an accessory to the iPhone. I think Apple is creating an iPhone for your wrist that is constantly paired with a bluetooth earpiece and iPad (full or mini). In other words, you would never talk into this directly (although you could), but it would mostly enable communication as the phone “hub” and your interaction with it would be by talking to or interacting with another small device. Of course, you would also glance at it for updates when alerted.

Why do I think this? Mostly because I think it makes perfect sense to move from always having a phone in/near your face to keep track of everything or communicate. Think about it. When stationary (bus, train, desk, couch) the best tool for surfing or monitoring is the iPad. You have the extra real estate and it’s just a better experience. When in motion (driving, walking, running) the best means of monitoring or communicating is with a bluetooth earpiece that alerts on status of communicates via a digital assistant. It’s more flexible and safe as opposed to looking at your phone. I can’t think of a single use case where holding a phone or holding it to your face is a superior experience.

Here’s some examples:

While running, you are alerted to any preset reminders or milestones (without need headphones running to your phone). You can glance at your wrist for real time stats and progress.

While driving, you ask Siri to read your email to you, or schedule an appointment, or take a call. This could be through the watch alone or in coordination with an iPad or iPad mini on a car mount.

In a meeting, taking notes on your iPad, your watch vibrates and you can glance to assess if something needs attention or not - then deal with it by touching something on the watch (ignore, respond) and then the iPad reacts accordingly.

While on the bus, reading the news, a call comes in which is dealt with by options on the watch (accept, ignore).

So I think they’ll disrupt their own business by making the phone a phone/watch that becomes a communication manager, not a thing you hold to your face. It’s part of a trio of devices - a phwatch (that doesn’t need a data plan), an indestructible (very important) bluetooth earpiece and an iPad with a data plan. This trio has all the advantages of Google glass (interacting with the world without having something in front of your face all the time) without the distraction of having data in front of you all the time.

Attribution for photo: ADR Studio under creative commons license.