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Mobile Communications

The Time Is Now: Apple Watch Primed For Success

Apple made good on expectations of a smartwatch yesterday with characteristic feature-level differentiation and the much imitated, rarely matched design brio that is the company’s hallmark. Such is the power of the marque that the company is guaranteed decent sales for the Watch. But can Apple rekindle past successes by cracking open another market long on potential but also long on disappointment, just as it did with music players and tablets?

Attempts to marry computing/communications and timekeeping have been going on almost as long as time itself. Think of the nerdy Casio DataBank with its full numeric keypad, a favourite of maths/science schoolkids going back to the 1970s. In the Nineties, Timex had a minor hit with the DataLink featuring whizzy flashing bars as your basic PDA information synced sans wires with a Windows computer. About the same time, the horrendous, outsize Swatch the Beep weighed down wrists and featured an alphanumeric pager as 1980s style made one belated last call for attention.

More recently there have been many better efforts with the Pebble pointing the way forward and the reasonable sales that makers of the latest watches have enjoyed suggest that Apple has a strong sniff of success. A nexus of trends is at play here:

Item: Consumers don’t seem to have a problem with what are still rather clunky, geeky designs compared to traditional timepieces. Geek chic is having a moment... and maybe more.

Item: The popularity of the iDevices mean companion products have a more capable partner system to act as an ‘overdrive’ gear with larger screen, faster processing, better input and so on. So the traditional blockers to smartwatch success are mitigated.

Item: Web storage means that smartwatches needn’t be compromised with heavy hardware specs that bulk up designs and the bill of materials.

Item: The obsession with the quantified self means there is a large and growing audience of people who want to measure more about themselves and their local environments.

Item: Desire for the latest Apple designs appears to transcend mere economics. That is, people who want the Apple Watch will find the money, even if the sticker price of $349 appears high.

Making forecasts is a risky business (as this hapless commentator on the iPhone launch makes clear) but, based on the above factors, the Apple Watch must have an outstanding chance of being successful.

 

Martin Veitch is Editorial Director at IDG Connect

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Martin Veitch

Martin Veitch is Contributing Editor for IDG Connect

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