Like many others, I’ve been eagerly awaiting the release of the iWatch with the hope that Apple will again deliver a game changer, a product that you didn’t even know you needed until it appeared and then rapidly reached a point of wondering how you ever existed without it.
The iPod, iPhone and iPad all delivered on this, but it’s been a long time since we’ve genuinely seen anything really new from the Apple world.
Sadly, I don’t think the iWatch is that product.
Smart watches are a massive category at present and one that commanded an enormous floor space at CES in January. I was early on the bandwagon, signing up for the Pebble crowd funding campaign and eagerly awaiting my delivery.
When it arrived I couldn’t wait to set it up, and found benefit in it notifying me of text messages or phone calls that I might have otherwise missed while my phone was buried in the depths of my handbag.But this wasn’t enough to motivate me to remember to charge it every night, or to compensate for the fact that it was a whole lot uglier than my regular watches, and before long it ended up confined to the drawer of devices I’ve enjoyed brief relationships with but haven’t turned into marriage material.
Since then none of the other smart watches have delivered enough benefit to convince me that they’d be any different. The one that’s come closest is the Motorola Moto 360, which has a built in SIM so doesn’t need to be tethered to another device, but I still couldn’t see enough benefit to overcome those negatives.
This week I got to try out the Apple watch while we were in Tokyo, and I was still hoping that once I actually got it on my wrist an epiphany would occur and I’d find my misgivings unfounded.
Sadly not. It’s just as ugly as it looks in the pictures, and reminds me of my first ever digital watch in style and size. Yes, you can change up the watch face, but that doesn’t change the casing, which is what I have the issue with.
The tap and swipe is familiar and reasonably easy, but it’s still a super tiny screen making anything other than very short messages difficult to read.
It buzzed away with notifications, but I felt this would soon become immensely irritating unless you have it set to minimal alerts, which kind of defeats the purpose.
The main issue for me is I just don’t find wrist based functionality all that beneficial. Looking down at your wrist to get information to me is just not that different to looking down at your phone, as opposed to the truly differential experience that Glass-style line of sight information delivery has the capacity to be.
I’m also struggling to clearly identify useful enterprise utilisations scenarios for our business. Potentially, if it evolves to incorporate widely available tap and pay or tap and access functionalities, saving me from having to dig out my wallet, or fish out keys or swipe access cards then I can see a use case, but until then there’s just not enough there to make me hand over the cash, although I’m sure millions will beg to differ.
Markets are fickle though, and if the iWatch fails to quickly evolve into something with a more compelling use case it will be interesting to see how that impacts on the perception of innovation that Apple has enjoyed for so long. My kids are 13 and ten, and three years is the equivalent of a generation when it comes to technology preferences. The 13-year-old won’t contemplate anything other than a MacBook Air as her laptop of choice and would rather stop breathing than be without her iPhone. The ten-year-old is about to get his first laptop and has zero interest in an ‘old fashioned MacBook.’ To him, it’s all about the SurfacePro3. Without a new game changer from Apple, his generation are not going to grow up with the same slave-like devotion to the brand that has turned it into the global behemoth it is today. For now thought I’m sure sales of the iWatch will be brisk, but you won’t see one on my arm other than in this picture!