So after a lot of hype and hoopla before the event, Apple announced a "new product category", the Apple Watch. Like many products before Apple was not the first to make a "smart" watch, but it aims to make the best. I say "aims to" because no one knows if Apple was able to achieve it yet or not as not even the attendees of Apple's Cupertino event were allowed to use the Apple Watch, just witness Apple people use it. Reminds us of the original iPhone event back in 2007, when the iPhone was displayed inside a cylindrical locked enclosure. So all the critics and opinions running around the internet (including mine) is based on what Apple showed us yesterday at the keynote.
When rumors started going around in 2006 that Apple was designing a smartphone, everyone knew what a smartphone would do, at least what they wanted it to do or had a set of expectations that were built on the then Blackberries and Palm Treos. Or in other words the so called smartphone market was a little more matured than the current smartwatch scene. So the bigger questions at that time were on how the iPhone would like and be different from the then existing smartphones and not on what it would do. Whereas now with the smarwatch, the situation is a little different. No one still knows what a smartwatch is for, I mean other than showing time, counting your calories and movements and show notifications. These three functions pretty much sum up the current smartwatch feature set. If you think about it, none of these features are that indispensable. I have used my iPhone forever to tell time (I sometimes use to wear a $25 watch, till its strap gave away). I use a FitBit to count my calories and movements. But FitBit does have its pitfalls, some major ones, like not being able to sync with my iPhone often, bad design that results in my FitBit going missing for days, etc. Finally, notifications... frankly I can live without them. I don't need to know when some friend of friend comments on the same post I commented on days before, that to instantly. It is sufficient if I get notified the next time I use my FaceBook App. Also most of the notifications, other than probably the emergency notifications are totally redundant. So in a nutshell no one (at least people like me) need a smartwatch or any of its existing feature sets.
Hmmm... that is a pretty grim outlook an smartwatches, wouldn't you say! No but it is the reality as of today, but that doesn't mean that there is no hope for this category in the future. Take a look at this article from MacWorld on what the Apple Watch can and can't do. The can't do list is more interesting to me. It has the following in that list; universal compatibility (ya rite...), a keyboard (thank god its missing from a 1.5 and a 1.7" screen), its own camera (a camera on a watch? it was Samsung's great idea!), built in GPS and Wifi (ok this is a reasonable claim) and finally a launch date (come on.. this was included only to get the can and can't do list to be even at five items). The point is that no one know what they want from a smartwatch to even criticize Apple for not delivering it on its take on it. All everyone knows is that the technology at this time allows us to make a touchscreen this small that can sit on our wrists and measure some bodily parameters. That sounds cool huh... Yeah that is all it is right now. This might not be the complete story though. For example, from Apple's keynote yesterday, Apple Watch can do more things (other the three features mentioned above) like, NFC Apple Pay, quick maps integration, communicating with other Apple Watch contacts, etc, but you see the list is not yet that compelling or exhaustive. This is not to say that there is no potential for this category, but the potential remains untapped yet, like the original iPhone was for a year or two after its release. It was a cool new smartphone but its potential was realized to the fullest only with the App store and the third party Apps. I am not sure what a similar break through situation for the Apple Watch would be, but I remain hopeful, as I have repeatedly stressed that if there is any company that can take a seemingly mundane, underutilized technology and make it a succesful mass market sensation, it is ONLY Apple!