There are several things you should or probably already do know about me:
– I am not particularly fashion driven. In fact I all too often just plain out forget my belt or something.
– I am not typically an early adopter. I have been in the computer industry long enough (35 years) to know that first gen hardware is just that first gen. There are too many quirks still extant to plunk down my hard earned money.
– The last time I wore a watch was 5th grade. I destroyed the watch my Dad gave me playing dodge ball and I felt terrible. Never again I said.
– I am cheap and cautious in my investing. I don’t like spending money when the return is hazy.
– As recently as a month ago, I was thinking of selling my Apple stock. I had trouble seeing how the Apple Watch would succeed. Had Apple jumped the shark?
And yet here I am with a receipt for Apple Watch in hand. It was an out of character move for me so why did I do it?
Apple has positioned the watch with a trio of current functions; time keeping, fitness and notifications from your on-line world. They are using style and fashion to move it into the watch lovers world, some interesting health related functionality for those thinking they are going to exercise more and positioning the notification system as a way to break free from your iPhone.
Some of the ostensible reasons I made the plunge:
– I am hopeful of weening myself off of my iPhone addiction
– I have a strong interest in the health and fitness functionality of an always attached device.
– My (dumb?) brother was willing to wake up at 3 am and place the order.
– I always LOVED Dick Tracey.
-And, finally, if Matt McGee can spring for a Google Glass and write a whole blog about it, I should able to spend 1/4 as much and at least get a few articles.
But those are mere rationalizations.
What helped me change my mind was this great piece by Ben Thompson: How Apple Will Make the Wearable Market. It really opened my eyes to the problems with cracking the wearable market and how Apple, of all the players, was in the best position to solve the chicken and egg problem of getting the market kick started.
I firmly believe that within the next 10 years, wearables will provide a human machine interface to the real world….. doors will unlock, cars will start, bills will be paid, location specific information will be pushed to us in real time. Wearables will be an automated and a hopefully private* way to do that.
As Thompson said in the article: to put it another way, I don’t think it’s an accident that the two hot new technologies are wearables and the Internet of Things; they are related such that each is made better by the other.
There will come a point where the local marketing, local search, local fulfillment, local almost everything will be part and parcel of this reality.
Apple successfully created some of the real world end points for this next step in digital in popularizing iBeacon and Apple Pay; two very real connection points for wearables. Now they are taking the first step in providing an ubiquitous physical interface for the human to interact with those points.
When the iPhone came I out I instantly judged it a metaphor for the future of the phone market. When the Glass came out, I failed to see how it could succeed.
I am much, much more ambiguous about the Apple Watch. Even now I perceive the product as only having a 50/50 chance of achieving mass market appeal with high consumer adoption rate. Clearly, it has a long way to go.
But if Google and Apple both introduced a wearable on the same day and they both had the same 50/50 odds, I would put my money on Apple having a success on their hands in 24 months and put my money on Google having pulled the plug.
The measure of this product is a fairly long time horizon – 5 to 10 years. The proof of its success will be the adoption of it by folks outside of the watch and technology worlds and whether it can in fact achieve the ideal of replacing not just my credit cards but my wallet, my keys and who knows what else.
This is the first device that I have seen that I think has a chance of doing that.
PS I persuaded my brother to get up at 3 AM to order them. It is interesting that even though he placed his order by 3:20 there is still a projected 4 to 6 week delay.
*While Apple is no paragon of virtue in the privacy world, they have a business case for maintaining a higher degree of privacy than either Google or Facebook, both of whom absolutely need your personal data to succeed. I chose NOT to buy a Nest, that I was thinking of buying, once they were sold to Google for that reason.