Let’s get this out of the way first: I’m a pretty big Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) fan. My articles are written on a Mac, I check email and grab story ideas on my iPhone, I’ve got several iPods in drawers around the house, and my Wi-Fi signal comes courtesy of an Airport Extreme. But even after years of using Apple products, I can’t image strapping an iWatch onto my wrist — I simply don’t see what value it could bring.
In the niche of time
There’s no doubt that wearable tech could be one of the next big markets. Some have estimated the market will be worth from $30 billion to $50 billion in the next five years. But wearable technology right now often fills a niche purpose, and it hasn’t yet been accepted for everyday use.
Take the NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) Sportwatch, for example. It uses GPS to track how many miles a runner has gone, the number of calories burned, and has a heart rate monitor. Those features are all great for runners — and maybe really intense walkers — but it’s not going to appeal to the mass market.
So here’s where the idea of an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iWatch falls apart for me. Apple doesn’t like to make products that fill niches. They want products that have mass appeal and will sell millions upon millions of units. The company invests too much time and money into products to not want them to be blockbusters.
Sure, an iWatch would do much more than track running stats, but the device would have to jump some pretty big hurdles to get the everyday user to want to purchase it.
I’ll submit my wife as an example. She spends time on Facebook Inc (NASDAQ:FB) and Instagram, some of her meal ideas come from Pinterest and a few of our vacations originated on Groupon Inc (NASDAQ:GRPN) and Airbnb. She has the latest iPhone, texts like a champ, blogs on WordPress, and likes her content streamed from the Roku. But in today’s world she’s an average user — she wouldn’t be considered a power user or an early adopter. And there’s certainly no way she’d wear an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) iWatch (yes, I asked her).
Sure, she’s only one person — hardly a representative sample — but for mass-market adoption, she’s exactly the type of consumer Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) would have to convince to purchase an iWatch. This is bad news for the company. Even worse, I can’t fathom wearing an Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL) watch myself — and I used to wear a calculator watch.
In order for the iWatch to be a success for Apple, the company would need to convince millions of potential customers that they need this sort of device — and that’s a pretty tall order. Tim Cook even hinted at the difficulty of wearables in May, saying, “You have to convince people it’s so incredible you want to wear it.”
The CEO of Swatch, Nick Hayek, said this just a few months ago, “Personally, I don’t believe it’s the next revolution. Replacing an iPhone with an interactive terminal on your wrist is difficult. You can’t have an immense display.”
Swatch isn’t an old dinosaur company trying to hold onto classic timepieces, either. It’s worked with Microsoft Corporation (NASDAQ:MSFT) to bring sports, weather, stock quotes and horoscopes to a line of watches back in 2004, experimented with a phone watch over a decade ago, and sells watches with Bluetooth connectivity.