The heavily rumored Apple iWatch is most likely to become a reality this Fall. While competitors such as Samsung, Google and others have created high-tech “wearables”, Apple typically does things differently — and better. Before iPhone, it was Blackberry who ruled the day as the serious smart phone with a physical keyboard, email and some limited web browsing capability. Then Apple entered the market with the iPhone and the industry was changed forever.
With iWatch we expect no less from Apple. Apple can not launch just another wearable and hope its success with iPhone and iPad will automatically translate into success for iWatch (that’s how Ballmer’s Microsoft used to think). Instead, there are two things that iWatch must do in order to be a success rivaling iPhone and iPad.
First, iWatch must do something that other wearable devices don’t currently offer. Displaying time is done by everyone. Alerting you is done by others. iWatch must show us something new, something different. It must integrate into our daily lives as much as the iPhone does. iWatch can not be another me-too in the marketplace. Instead, it must change the market place just like iPhone did for the cell phone industry and iPad did to the netbook industry (which was to eliminate them).
Second, iWatch must become another Apple status symbol. The physical design must say that the wearer is someone special. In other words, iWatch must create watch-envy from all others who do not own or wear an iWatch. While this vanity may seem silly on the surface, it is a big factor in whether a product becomes a hit or not. If the iPhone looked ugly or was made of the same plastic-like materials that other smart phones have, then you could be assured that iPhone sales would not be what they are today. Over half the time, the iPhone is just sitting on a desk, a countertop or shelf. So a mobile device is more that just “What can it do?” it also asks the question “What does it say?” about its owner.
Apple has thought through these two important points very carefully. We doubt Apple will come out with a one-size fits all approach to iWatch. Under Tim Cook’s direction Apple often gives users more choices than Steve Jobs did. That said, this will be Tim Cook’s biggest moment at Apple — his first new category product, and he dare not mess it up.
iWatch will be huge, but only when Apple is ready and only when it has conquered the two main items listed above that will make it another Apple success story.
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