I’m more than a little surprised at all the Apple Watch naysayers. Don’t get me wrong. This is Apple’s (AAPL) first new gadget in five years, everyone has an opinion on whether it’s going to be a hit or not, and it really is a simple binary proposition, yay or nay.
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What surprises me is that they never seem to get sick of being completely and consistently wrong. Time after time, they’re so wrong you can set your watch by it.
I’m seeing story after story about all the things Apple Watch is not, does not have or will not do. It doesn’t solve a problem. It has no killer app. It won’t disrupt the watch industry.
When have we heard all that before?
What problem did iPhone solve before it launched and everyone got to play with the now indispensable multi-touch display, virtual keypad and gazillion apps?
Speaking of apps, iPad certainly had no killer app. I’m not even sure it has one now. I mostly play Scrabble on it. But it certainly didn’t end up being just a big iPod Touch.
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And who in the world thought iPod and iTunes would disrupt the music industry? That’s right, nobody.
Don’t even get me started on what a dumb idea it was to open retail stores, so said all the pundits.
Back to the present, let me explain how this Apple Watch thing will go down. I certainly hope all the negatrons are paying attention.
First and foremost, it will immeasurably improve the mobile experience by enabling users to make calls, message, navigate, play music, get information, make payments, board planes, check in at hotels, monitor fitness, and control or access their home or car without having to dig a phone out of their pockets.
Apple Watch essentially makes your iPhone hands-free and that’s the best case yet for sticking with or joining Apple’s growing ecosystem. It’s actually a brilliant strategy for getting Droid users to iSwitch to iPhone -- Apple’s primary moneymaker -- as I explained a few months ago.
While I do believe the tap and perhaps sketch function will add new dimensions to notifications, I think Apple Watch will bring an even more profound and unexpected change to the way we communicate. It will finally get users to rely on voice instead of thumbs for control, information, and messaging. And that will have a ripple effect.
It may not bring about the demise of the virtual keyboard just yet but necessity is the mother of invention and we finally have the perfect storm of a tiny screen, voice recognition accuracy, and Siri artificial intelligence to bring speech back to the forefront of human communication.
With dictation capability already built into our computers and voice control becoming more prevalent in cars and living rooms, voice commands and dictation will slowly replace physical remotes and keyboards, as well. We may one day look back and know that Apple Watch was the catalyst in that transformation.
As far as the not-so-smart watch market goes, I’m certainly not planning on selling my Patek Philippe anytime soon. But for a few hundred bucks I definitely want to have that kind of rich functionality on my wrist on a day-to-day basis. It’s simply too much convenience to pass up.
Luxury and el cheapo watchmakers are probably safe but the combination of Apple and Android will create considerable market share pressure for everyone else. And they lack the phone and app ecosystem to compete. They won’t say it but they do know it.
To be fair, there is a lingering question about battery life. Apple says 18 hours but, if you’re all talk, you only get 3. Here’s Apple’s small print. That unknown will keep a lot of potential buyers from pulling the trigger until there are independent reviews or subsequent versions with improvements.
In any case, the knock that you can’t wear it to bed is ridiculous. If you really need a gadget to tell you if you’re sleeping well at night or just in case, you’ve got bigger issues, my friend.
One last thing. Remember when Google launched Android Wear last year, sparking a frenzy of stories declaring Google (GOOGL) the winner in Smartwatches? Well Google and Samsung are about to learn once again that it makes no difference whether they get to market early or late, the best product always wins.
By the end of 2015, Apple will once again have a category killer. And without Steve Jobs, may he rest in peace.