Infrastructure // PC & Servers
Commentary
2/11/2013
06:43 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
Commentary
Connect Directly
Google+
LinkedIn
Twitter
RSS
E-Mail
50%
50%

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.

Previous
2 of 2
Next
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
Comments
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Xennex
50%
50%
Xennex,
User Rank: Apprentice
6/13/2013 | 12:59:22 AM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
They've announced a in-vehicle system where the iDevice becomes the central component to the onboard display and entertainment/navigation system. Why not miniaturize that idea to fit on your wrist? Though when you think about it that way there's no reason a 3rd party company couldn't make one that supports ALL major mobile OSes via bluetooth or zigbee.
jgeiss4p
50%
50%
jgeiss4p,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/14/2013 | 3:04:58 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
The great trick here is to come up with a 'true' wearable computer experience! A combination head-band/glasses that you wear which has headphones, microphone, video camera, heads-up display and sensors to pick up brainwave activity (see the recent announcements of the 'Muse' headband).
Then, you add a watch which will talk to the headband via bluetooth. Large, flat curved screen (3.5 inches, or so) that wraps over the top of your wrist comfortably. It will be used for vibration alerts, and for an input keyboard/touch screen to the system.
Play music at any time. Watch video on the bus in the heads-up display. Has all of your appointments and reminders set. Phone. VidPhone. Everything you need, everything your phone currently does, in a two-part package that weighs a few ounces.
Add some medical monitoring (heartbeat, brainwaves, etc...) and include alerts to the appropriate people if it encounters a medical emergency.
Sounds like a good idea to me.
David Berlind
50%
50%
David Berlind,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 6:04:35 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Regarding point #1 (wireless carrier subscription fees), I think it's fair to say that the wireless carriers are going to have to rethink their plans around the idea fo the Internet of Things (whether those things are watches, sensors, etc.). Today, carriers have plans like Verizon's "share everything plan" (see http://www.verizonwireless.com... that appear to target families where you have multiple phones on one plan, all digging into the same bucket of minutes and data. These share everything plans are a harbinger of things to come. W/hat will change is that they'll be marketed at individuals like you and me to support our cadre of connected things (phones, watches, tablets, cars, etc.). My hope is that the cost will come down too because that will be a gating factor in our plans to purchase and use these devices.

On the watch viability front, there's definitely an opportunity in the area of special purpose connected devices with a strap, like a watch. I own a Garmin 405 GPS watch and have the "cycling kit" to go with it. Garmin has newer models, but I've always like the promise of the 405 (not necessarily the implementation). It keeps time, tells me where I am, how to get back to where I started my ride, shows me total miles ridden, calories burned (I have the heart strap), current speed, average speed, etc, and it lets me post the maps of my rides up to the Web. I'm not saying that this is the killer app for a watch. But, to Merlin1935's point, the idea of a watch as one of my things (as in my personal Internet of Things) is limited by the imagination of what such a watch will do. I agree that squeezing an iPod into another form factor isn't necessarily a game changer. Especially given the compromise that would be introduced to typical iPod functionality because of power/battery challenges that such a small form factor poses.

But the interest in the Pebble on Kickstarter (http://www.kickstarter.com/pro... definitely proves that there's room for innovation and design.
Bizlaw
50%
50%
Bizlaw,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 4:38:12 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
You're assuming the iWatch is designed to replace the smartphone. It can't. The iWatch has to be a complimentary device, something to give easy, quick access to your smartphone, which may be stored in your pocket, purse, etc. This would be particularly useful as smartphones grow in size (5" screens are getting ridiculous to hold up to your head).

This also means the iWatch doesn't need network capability, just a bluetooth link to your smartphone. It could be something that is passive, only coming active for bluetooth reception when your smartphone initiates communication, thus reducing battery drain.

And it's not true that smartphones do everything better than a watch. A quick look at the time is much better suited for a watch strapped to your wrist than digging your phone out of your pocket. A quick calculator, calendar, weather check, etc. would be faster and easier on your watch.

NFC is the great red herring of the tech world. It's been around for years but no one has ever adopted it in earnest. Smartphones will bypass NFC in favor of apps like Apple's Passbook, because then you can load your debit card, shoppers card, rewards card, VISA, etc. all in one place. Merchants won't have to buy new equipment (they already have bar code scanners), plus phone manufacturers won't have to squeeze another chip into their handsets (more room for batteries). And, it can be password protected so someone can't take your phone and waive it across the self-checkout at Walmart and buy themselves a 60" TV on your dime.
Latichever
50%
50%
Latichever,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 3:02:32 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
If the watch was an extension of my iPhone as well as had some independent functionality, it would fly.

But what can a watch do that a phone can't? I tell my watchless kids that you can't surreptitiously check how much time is left to endure in a deadly boring meeting or class.
moarsauce123
50%
50%
moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
2/13/2013 | 12:31:44 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Apple will not need to prove you wrong. Consumers need to do that. And aside from bragging rights and having too much money I see no value in that gadget. Then again, I also see no value in a smartphone. So, keep the salt shaker handy.
moarsauce123
50%
50%
moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
2/13/2013 | 12:30:04 PM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Actually, Bill Gates never said this about the 1.44 MB floppy. He did state that nobody needs more than 640 kB RAM. And now see where we are, can't even run Windows efficiently on a system with less than 2 GB of RAM.
Andrew Hornback
50%
50%
Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 5:01:43 AM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Depending on the functionality needed and the level of craftiness of the user, you could create a band out of 550 paracord for an iPod Nano.

I wouldn't mind having one, if only to have my schedule on it so I'm not missing meetings, know when I'm free, etc. without having to dig out a device. I can also see this kind of device being used as an second-factor of authentication token or as a personal hot spot to power other devices, but then battery life may be limited - and if it's like the latest generation iPads, it may be a wrist warmer.

I just hope that if Apple does really go through with this, they learned something from what Casio did about 20 years ago.

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
rgraham079
50%
50%
rgraham079,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 4:18:33 AM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Although this product has existed for a couple of years, Apple will be able to market it brilliantly for a premium price. The key will be that the watch should be CONTINUOUSLY wearable (waterproof) and will offer degraded functionality on its own, full voice (and recognition/control) with an earpiece and full functionality when connected to a CHEAP and DURABLE external touch surface that can be broken or lost without much angst. Alternately, tether it wirelessly to a tablet.The key is CONTINUOUS and SECURE use on the wrist. It will certainly be able to handle messaging with voice recognition to expedite typing.
ANON1237837896902
50%
50%
ANON1237837896902,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/13/2013 | 2:31:15 AM
re: Apple iWatch: 7 Reasons It Won't Fly
Seems to me that the iWatch is simply another easier to access screen. I don't always pull my phone out of my pocket or off my belt when it vibrates, but I might glance down at my watch. And although many people seem to have little problem having a ear piece in all day long, it only really makes sense for those of us who are constantly on the phone. How often to you see the average user holding their phone not to their head but out with the speaker on to talk. A wrist mounted speaker/mic could make that oh so much easier.

So with every product, I'm looking for killer use case and what I see for the iWatch are these.

1) Easier notification access, including voice based responding to texts and touch based selection of items all without taking your phone out of your pocket.

2) Bluetooth speaker phone with a much more advanced UI than the single button interface on current ear pieces.

There are others, like the dick tracy vid phone that would demo well, and although the author dismissed the NFC idea, I see no reason to pull my phone out of my pocket if I can authorize charges with the device on my wrist.

Finally, all of what I'm describing is not intended to replace a phone, but as an accessory for a phone. So processor, and battery life would be far less of an issue that what the author is talking about.

I personally see far more real world use cases for this than google glass and you don't have to look like a dork to use it, nor would it have to cost hundreds of dollars. This could be in the Nano price range and kill the nano in the process.....IMHO.
Page 1 / 2   >   >>
Server Market Splitsville
Server Market Splitsville
Just because the server market's in the doldrums doesn't mean innovation has ceased. Far from it -- server technology is enjoying the biggest renaissance since the dawn of x86 systems. But the primary driver is now service providers, not enterprises.
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
White Papers
Current Issue
InformationWeek Tech Digest, Dec. 9, 2014
Apps will make or break the tablet as a work device, but don't shortchange critical factors related to hardware, security, peripherals, and integration.
Video
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
InformationWeek Radio
Archived InformationWeek Radio
Join us for a roundup of the top stories on InformationWeek.com for the week of December 14, 2014. Be here for the show and for the incredible Friday Afternoon Conversation that runs beside the program.
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.