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2/11/2013
06:43 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly

Squeezing a processor into an iPod Nano form factor mostly means a less-capable computing device, and adding a wristband doesn't change that.

1. Subscription Fees
Smartphones are expensive to own and operate, particularly if you also pay cellular connectivity on a tablet, broadband Internet and cable TV. If the iWatch requires a monthly fee, it will be a lot less appealing.

2. Battery Life
Smartphones tend to devour battery power. An Apple iWatch wouldn't have to deal with the power demands of gaming apps, but it would be pressed for power to deal with constant network activity. If the iWatch has to be recharged frequently, it will be more burden than benefit. Inductive charging could help, but really you don't want to have to remove your watch to charge it.

3. Sensors Don't Matter
There's much talk about how ubiquitous sensors will bring on the Internet of Things and change the world. For some things, like road sensors, traffic and automatic cars, that's probably true. Sensors are particularly valuable when data is aggregated on a mass scale. However, sensors that provide personal analytics are overrated. Some people no doubt appreciate knowing how far they've walked and how many calories they've eaten. They could also have paid attention to how long they've been walking and what they put in their mouths. There's data all around us if we care to see it and think about it. You don't need an iWatch to make good personal decisions about exercise and diet.

4. Everything Watches Can Do, Phones Can Do Better
Experience the limited input capabilities of the iWatch today: Use your iPhone without using the virtual keyboard. That will mean a lot of interaction with Siri, Apple's voice-driven personal assistant. iWatch apps won't be able to do much with so little screen space and limited touch input. Someday, Siri may turn out to be the preferred way to interact with one's iPhone. But that's not the case today.

5. Notifications Are The New Spam
If you only receive a few notifications through your smartphone and other devices, then you probably appreciate notifications but don't really require them. After all, with only a few of them, you can check your calendar periodically and rely on memory, notes and other reminders. If you receive a lot of notifications, you've probably started to tune them out. Chances are you'd be better off with better information filtering than an iWatch that offers another channel for notifications.

6. NFC Isn't A Point of Differentiation
The iWatch has potential for near-field communications (NFC) applications, like contactless payments. But Apple doesn't add any value to NFC, at least not at this point. NFC is a standard protocol. There's no reason an Apple iWatch with NFC would be any better as a means of electronic payment than, say, a Google Nexus 4. When the iPhone debuted, it was better than any other smartphone. Specifically, its touch interface and digital commerce ecosystem were better than the competition. It seems unlikely that Apple will be able to reinvent the watch in a way that matches its reinvention of the mobile phone.

7. Cost
The real market for an iWatch might be overseas, in places like China and in the developing world where there's greater price sensitivity. The iWatch might be redundant for iPhone owners but it might work as an alternative to a smartphone. It could be an entry point to bring new customers into Apple's ecosystem, in the hope they'd later upgrade to other iOS devices. But given that Apple sells its iPod Nano for $149, it's not immediately clear that the company could sell the iWatch at a price point that's low enough. If Apple could do it for $49, it would be a huge hit. But the company has shown little interest in selling low-margin items.

Whether Apple decides to go ahead with its iWatch remains to be seen. But it would be nice if the company first turned Apple TV from a hobby into a serious attempt to reinvent television.

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AjoyB
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AjoyB,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 2:17:11 AM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
It may be a less-capable computing device, but it's a vastly-more-capable wristwatch. Depends how you look at it.
Gadgety
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Gadgety,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2013 | 9:55:20 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Wasn't that what they told the Wright brothers? It'll never fly. There are endless predictions which are just hilarious in hindsight. Seriously Mr Claburn I used to have a SonyEricsson BT watch strapped to my wrist. The genius is in the hands free quick glanceability, discretion, the advantage of touch vibration alerts on your skin etc etc. It was flawed, however, as the OLED screen died a certain number of years after manufacture, which is the reason I don't wear one today. In addition your analysis may be too narrow or short sighted. Don't you think there's a demand for this when people started strapping non-BT equipped Nanos to their wrists as watches? Or when one of the most successful Kickstarter fundings ever, the Pebble, is a, hold on for it, BT wristwatch? Have you noticed how phones have grown to mini tablets - they're cumbersome to take out unless you want to surf the web, or text a message? The rest can be handled better without committing both your hands to an activity. Recharging could be taken care of while you sleep. People are used to it. It's no big deal. "You don't need an iWatch to make good personal decisions about exercise and diet. " True. In fact you don't need a diet, and if you don't own a car or any means of transport, you'll get free exercise. Despite this, pulse watches sell. In fact they sell quite well. And to many different segments of users. And look at the whole industry set up for dieting. Billions of dollars. Is it necessary despite exercise and diet is just common sense? Apparently. There's a demand out there.Your writing seems to suggest it'll replace a phone: "Squeezing a processor into an iPod Nano form factor mostly means a less-capable computing device", er, yes and so? Do people buy Nanos and a phone? Some, not all. It may be a niche product, yet Apple has the knack for producing high margin products and still sell in huge amounts. What about fashion? Apple products are design statements in and of themselves. If women like it for its look it'll take hold just based on that. If it adds functionality, so much the better.
Merlin1935
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Merlin1935,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2013 | 8:56:58 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Not less a person than Steve Balmer, the CEO of Microsoft, wrote off Apple iPad when it was first released, saying on live TV that it would not sell because there is no need for it.

Two decades earlier Bill Gates reportedly said that he did not see why anyone would need more than 1.44Mb of storage, concluding that the 1.44mb floppy drive was sufficient into the unforeseeable future.

Condemning the iWatch is like not learning from the past. People will first buy it because it looks "cool", then they'll figure out why they need it.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/12/2013 | 8:21:48 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
True enough. I hope Apple will prove me wrong. But Apple's success in those areas hinged largely on how badly everyone else had implemented MP3 music players, mobile phones, and tablets. I don't see a broad failure to deliver functional wristwatches that Apple could exploit. And adding new functions to the wristwatch would mean those functions could be added to anything, since they're not essential to time keeping. If we're taking watches as passcode tokens, we could just as easily be talking about any accessory embedded with the right crypto tech.
Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
2/12/2013 | 8:17:19 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
I believe there are already voice stress apps that purport to identify lies. I suspect they're not all that accurate, and that would probably be a problem with any facial expression analysis. If facial lie detection actually worked, I'd expect to see botox sales increase.
thaight940
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thaight940,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2013 | 7:45:35 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
It may be that a killer app will come along and make eyeglass displays work. I propose an app that uses a camera to measure the facial expressions of a person you're talking to and display whether it's likely that they are lying.
GIGABOB
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GIGABOB,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2013 | 5:57:52 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Actually the watch becomes interesting when it replaces the phone. Combined with glasses and Bluetooth link between the two - this could very well be a winning combination. Imagine a pair of glasses with imaging, ear bud or jawbone on each end of the glasses for audio and BT link to the phone engine on the wrist. A nice intermediate evolution before moore's law takes us to a fully integrated compute environment in a lightweight glasses frame.
bknabe
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bknabe,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/12/2013 | 5:55:55 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
While I tend to agree with you, similar articles were written about iPods, iPhones, and iPads, so you might want to grab the salt shaker.
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