Yesterday I wrote about the upcoming Apple announcement and how I think that the iWatch would not be released before the end of the year. At the end of that article I said I would explain today why the iWatch will fail. Read on.
There is little doubt left on this planet on whether or not Apple will release an iWatch. The rumors have come from every direction one can imagine. Yet we still do not know anything about this device. Am I being bold in saying that this device will be a failure, especially when you consider that we know nothing? Maybe. However, I can tell you the reason why it will fail right now. It’s made by Apple.
Allow me if you will to preface my thoughts with a few things: It is true that I consider myself an Android fan but what you may not know is that I routinely point people to the iPad over Android tablets. I have in the past year spent time with phones running Android, Blackberry 10, Windows Phone, and iOS. I used an iPhone primarily for a couple of months and came back to try out the new iOS betas for a while. I owned an iPad for almost the entire year until a little bit back and carried it with me everywhere I went. I use a MacBook Pro for my personal laptop. I may be an Android fan but I am not inclined toward liking or disliking products based on brand. I am a technology lover first and foremost.
The reason I say the iWatch will fail is because I do not believe Apple is ready to change it’s style. I think the tradition of Apple will carry on in this device and I think that this specific tradition will be even more damaging to this device than any other device Apple sells right now. That tradition is maintaining control over both the hardware and software sides of the product.
Apple is a hardware company. They make their money on hardware sales and they are filthy rich by charging a premium on their hardware. There is a lot they do right so please don’t take this as a criticism of their business model. They have had steady growth for over a decade on the desktops and laptops and they went through the roof with the iPod and later the iPhone and iPad. Apple has had great success in maintaining full control from software to hardware. One can point out Android having greater market share than iOS as a failure for Apple but they also typically make a greater margin on devices than other manufacturers. Is it more desirable to be the top in sales or to be the top in profitability? Apple has made a killing on this business model once you get past the glory days of the desktop PC. Mountains of money with unique software and well built, well designed hardware has been great for them. I do not think that can continue into something that will be viewed as more than technology.
All iSheep jokes aside, people crave uniqueness. Sure you can find a funny image of glowing apples filling a college class room but there is a difference between technology and jewelry. A watch, no matter how much technology is stuffed in it, is still a watch. Watches have been around for centuries and there is a long tradition of watches being unique. You can walk into any jewelry store and see more variations on the idea of a watch than you would find if you walked into a carrier store and looked at flagship phones. Will people really just look at the iWatch and just say, “okay it’s made by Apple, I’d better get it?”
When the iWatch is finally released, the heavens will part and the blessed Jony Ive designed hardware will float into hands and onto wrists. Sales will be awesome as early adopters and Apple loyalists weep and drool at the magical band of life. There will not be enough of a supply of iWatches to meet demand of the starving crowd. The iWatch will be the talk of the town. Six months later, store shelves will be stocked and boxes will need dusting. The iWatch will be plentiful on the garage sale of eBay. People will remember what a watch is and what they want in an iWatch. The number of people wearing their iWatch in public will make owners regret their decision as their wrists are tattooed with the same sense of brand loyalty as their local barista. The baristas will be embarrassed by the show of community among themselves and the soccer moms who guzzle their overpriced coffee. Cats and dogs will once again fight and the world will go back to normal.
I’ve been wrong before and I will be wrong again, but until the proof is in the pudding, you will not convince me that people will be so loyal to Apple that they will forego their originality. Yes there will be those that will be loyal to Apple to the end. Yes there will be some who will stick with the iWatch because it is made FOR the iPhone. I’m sure it will be attractive and some will keep it because that’s enough. However, I think it will fail, at least from my perspective.
What do you expect from the wearables market? Is this a side wing off of the growth of mobile or is it the beginning of the establishment of a completely new category? I believe the latter and I believe that Apple’s methodologies will finally catch up with them.
Google has the right idea in making Android Wear a platform and not a product. There’s no guarantee they will have the ultimate success in this space but making a platform that can go on cheap devices all the way up to very nice and expensive devices gives them more opportunity to become entrenched. With Android Wear I can use the G Watch as I am now and look forward to the release of the Kairos Smartwatch. I already have 2 styles of hardware rather than one and will likely have a few more choices before the end of the year. Android Wear allows me to use a familiar system, built specifically to work with another system and make decisions other than white or black about the style I want.
In closing, watches are not phones. I don’t think even Apple has the ability to change people’s thoughts and minds regarding individuality. Some will scoff and point at other devices but I hold to my claim. The iWatch will be a bump in the road of technology and wearables that will not be worth remembering before all is said and done, unless Apple decides to think differently, and break their tried and true policy of control.
Featured image courtesy 9to5 Mac.