Apple Watch – The Future or a Flop?

Apple Watch

Apple Watch

Last week saw the official launch of the much anticipated (in tech circles anyway!) Apple Watch. On the back of record $18bn profits at the start of 2015, it seems that Apple can do no wrong – but is the Watch, not the iWatch, the next big thing or an innovation too far?

Why you need one:

  • Fashion – When Apple launched its first generation of phone in 2007, thanks to some fantastic design and marketing from Ive and Jobs, it was an object which people actually desired. It became a fashion accessory, so merging tech and fashion is not new to Apple.
  • Price – The price tag isn’t cheap but in the world of watches, £299 isn’t too bad. That money will get you a very nice designer watch (Armani, Boss and Barbour are all in the ball park), but these watches are different propositions. The real competition to the Watch is probably the Samsung Gear which retails at a similar price. It might feel more expensive than a phone as a lot of phone cost is added as part of your phone contract – no contract with the Watch.
  • Functionality – As it stands, the Watch is able to read emails, receive calls, summon Siri and alert you to social media updates, with Facebook and Twitter alerts working. So it’s no white elephant. And the functionality will only increase. Devices live and die by the developer buy-in and the early signs are that there will be lots of new apps arriving on the Watch soon.
  • It’s a New Apple Product – You can expect the hype to grow over the next six weeks and if the last quarter of 2014 is anything to go by, the hype works on lots of us. There will be big queues outside shops across the world at the end of April.

Why you don’t need one:

  • Track Record – As is often the case, Apple is not first to the smart-wear market. Samsung’s Gear range has been on the market for around 18 months and hasn’t exactly set the world on fire. The Pebble Watch works with iOS, and while it has sold 1m units in its first two years, Apple will be expecting to shift a lot more than this. Is this suggesting that people just aren’t into smart-wear (yet?)?
  • You Need an iPhone – Obviously! And if you have updated your software with iOS 8.2, then you will notice that Apple have helpfully popped the Watch app on your phone. Just like they helpfully put the latest U2 album on your phone….
  • Battery Life – This has been quite contentious since the launch. Apple claimed battery lives of over 24 hours, but tests have yielded far poorer results. It kind of depends on what you do and how often you use the phone but the battery on your Watch going dead at lunchtime will seriously irritate.
  • Fashion and Price – While both of these were listed as reasons to buy a Watch, they are also reasons not to. The £299 price-tag is worth paying if you are going to see some sort of benefit, but will the Watch really deliver it? And the Watch is a mix of fashion and tech, but being both means it could do neither well.

What do you think? Are you excited by the launch or letting it pass you by?

Apple Launch Event

Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

Apple iPhone 6 and Apple Watch

Assuming that you are not a tech geek / happened to be passing the Flint Centre in Cupertino California, then you may be wondering what happened at the Apple Launch Event on 9th September.

Well, you essentially missed three things – two new iPhones and the ‘one more thing’, the Apple Watch.

New iPhone 6:

Tim Cook unveiled two new iPhones at the launch event.  The iPhone 6 and the iPhone 6 Plus.  Rather than just an update of software or a couple of new features, this is a significant change for the iPhone.  As with the move from the iPhone 4 to 5, the iPhone 6 will be larger than the 5.  The iPhone 5 screen is 4 inches, but the iPhone 6 is 4.7 inches.  The iPhone 6 Plus has a screen size of 5.5 inches, which puts it in the same ballpark as the Samsung Galaxy Note 4 and the LG G3.

The iPhone 6 will boast an increased number of pixels for better text clarity, and a better autofocus on the camera, which as an iPhone 5 user I think is long overdue.  There are also advances in storing your payment info on your phone, imaginatively called Apple Pay, and accessing it via fingerprint and near-field communication (NFC), technology which has yet to gain widespread support in the financial world.

While this sort of innovation is new for Apple, it is not new for the marketplace or smart phone users.  Samsung has long had the approach that bigger is best even to the point of merging the worlds of the phone and tablet with the Galaxy Note 3 ‘Phablet’.  So, Apple could be accused of following the market on one hand, and amending its product offering by responding to changing consumer needs on the other – depends if you are a fan of Apple or not, but it is a bold move to dump the 4 inch size when it has been so popular.

New Apple Watch:

The Apple Watch (no, not the iWatch) is perhaps the worst kept secret in tech.  Apple are positioning this as a health and fitness extension of the iPhone.  You will be able to track your progress by GPS and Wi-Fi, but you will need an iPhone 6 to make the watch work, which will make it a big investment at least initially.

The Apple Watch claims to be accurate to 0.05 secs wherever you are on the planet, and will enable you to access a number of phone features on the device – Siri (for smart messaging), music, speaker, etc.  The Apple Watch is available in two sizes (38mm and 42mm height), and has a range of faces that users can choose, and a choice of six interchangeable straps – Apple boast that there are 2 million ways to see time on the Apple Watch.

Like the iPhone 6, the technology is new for Apple, but not new for users or the market.  Samsung released the Gear smartwatch over a year ago, and Google’s wearable technology is already available in the UK with Google Glass.

Summary:

So, while there is always a lot of excitement about the launch of new Apple products, and I am sure that there will be the traditional queues outside Apple Stores on the day of launch, there were no great surprises – larger phones are one of the reasons why Samsung is so successful, and wearable technology is already with us.  There is no doubt that these products will sell well, but the wow factor that accompanied earlier launches just wasn’t there – has Apple turned from market leader to market follower?