The iWatch conundrum

If Apple makes it, would it sell? And if the market isn't there, would Apple bother?

By , Computerworld |  Hardware

I'm skeptical when it comes to the concept of wearing a technological bracelet, but then I think back to product announcements like the iPhone, with its first commercial multitouch screen technology and finger-based scrolling. I was skeptical about the phone's performance, battery life, and the usefulness of gesture interactions in the real world; impressive tech demos don't always translate well in day-to-day life. But the way Apple engineers implemented the technologies quickly won me over.

Early iPhone skepticism

Take a look at the original iPhone keynote in 2007, and you'll hear the audience go crazy for the "widescreen iPod with touch controls" announcement. That's because everyone could relate to a larger screen for watching movies on the go. Crowd reaction was even greater for the "revolutionary mobile phone" announcement, simply because most people in that audience were sick of phones of the day. The third feature -- "a breakthrough internet communications device" -- elicited a more muted response. But in retrospect, it's clear that the always-on data connection in concert with more sophisticated software turned out to be as revolutionary as the pioneering user interface and gestures. Yet, those were the very features that elicited the least cheers.

Why? Because the 2007-era audience hadn't imagined a phone that didn't treat the internet as a second-class citizen.

And that's how I feel right now about an iWatch. I'm politely attentive and willing to be convinced, even as I see-saw on the long-term pros and cons of such a product. But convincing 2007-era smartphone users to forego a physical keyboard for a virtual one may have been easier than convincing watch wearers to buy a smart watch. While the iPhone may have transformed smartphones from pocket communicator to fashion accessory for some, Marks doesn't think the current audience for time pieces would want to replace theirs with a one-for-all solution.

"This doesn't apply to most nerds, but watches aren't just utilitarian machines designed to tell time. They're personal statements, and one watch does not fit every outfit. An Apple watch -- hell, any smart watch -- isn't going to fit every style and occasion, which makes it a less appealing idea."

Apple isn't a company that throws a dozen products at the market in hopes that one catches on; It's more deliberate. When it enters a market, it always attacks from a perspective no one considered, an angle that seems obvious only in retrospect. And that's the problem with the current iWatch fad. The Geek in me wants to believe, but I haven't read about a convincing angle -- or just the right problem solved -- that would lead Apple to release such a device. And I'm not the only one.

Hype or hope?


Originally published on Computerworld |  Click here to read the original story.
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