Just about three years ago Apple introduced Apple Watch. Just over two years ago Apple launched Watch. Yes, compared to iPhone, Watch is a huge failure and barely 25-million people or so have bought one.
And why should you buy Watch? It’s little more than a glorified exercise tracker, a luxury bauble, a stylish fashion accessory that tells time, an extension of iPhone alerts, alarms, and notifications, and seemingly a health and fitness device that tracks sleep, heart rate, and, oh, it receives phone calls, makes phone calls, and lets you check on and send messages and emails.
Whew. And that’s what Watch is. A stylish but seemingly complex value proposition that is all things to some Apple customers and nothing to a few (and less than nothing to incessant Apple critics who just can’t see the iPod Effect when it hits them between the eyes).
What is Watch?
See above. Watch is what you want it to be and that can mean little more than an electronic watch with a few alerts, or a device which could save your life and be a useful extension of your iPhone (without all the associated efforts of rummaging around in backpack, pocket, purse, or bag to see this or do that).
Watch seems to be spreading its wings and taking on ever more functionality and capability to match the style and fashion functions.
Jan Dawson went into great detail about where Watch is and outlined a road for Apple to go, but the single notable insight is that Watch is going down many roads thanks to an array of sensors and applications, both of which combine to make the device more of a mini-iPhone which is instantly accessible, but with capabilities beyond Apple’s flagship device.
Therein lies a problem; noted by critics, figured out by savvy Apple customers, and awaiting any customer who is willing to wade through all that Watch can do for anyone.
Think of what you get with iPhone. A cellphone. But also a device that handles email, browses the web, plays gazillions of games, manages to-do items, takes notes, acts as an excellent camera– photo and movie. There’s also calendar and contacts, reminders and text messages, music and video playing, and many thousands of other uses.
What’s the value proposition? It’s whatever you want it to be. That’s Watch, too. The little device that could remains a fashion accessory, an alert and notification extension of iPhone, a convenient way to manage communication, and, as Dawson points out, the new direction is healthcare.
One question I had for the Apple folks I talked to was how it decides which domains to play in itself versus leaving them to third parties – for example, it’s added some sleep-related functionality such as the Bedtime feature, but still doesn’t do its own sleep tracking, and doesn’t really have much of a first-party play in nutrition tracking either. The answer I got was the classic Apple one: Apple tends to participate directly in a market only where it feels like it can do something unique and different. For now, that means there are plenty of areas where others are better qualified and equipped to make a difference and provide the features and functionality users need. Discovery of these in the App Store and elsewhere is going to be key for enabling users of Apple’s ecosystem to make the most of all this
Therein lies another issue. Discovery. Apple’s customers– Mac, iPhone, iPad– tend to have and use more applications than their Android and Windows relatives. With security and privacy being under attack from many directions, Apple’s walled garden and curated ecosystem is becoming a comfortable place for customers to explore what Apple’s devices can do, which may also explain why the Mac’s sales continues to grow; an ongoing event that seems to defy logic as the traditional PC industry has been going downward for almost three years.
Apple Watch has become much like iPhone; an increasingly rich environment where customers can find and utilize applications, features, and functionality just not easily obtained on similar devices. Just like Mac, iPhone, and iPad.