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2/19/2013
05:09 PM
Tom LaSusa
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Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out

Does a smartwatch make sense in the new world of smartphones and tablets? Does anyone even wear a watch anymore? Readers weigh in.

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As the rumors continue to swirl around the alleged Apple iWatch, and similar devices from other vendors, I keep glancing down at my wrist, trying to recall the last time I had a tan line from a watch band. When I first got a pager somewhere around 1990 (there I go, dating myself), I unceremoniously dumped my wristwatch into the top drawer of my dresser and it never saw the light of day again.

To me, a watch seems like an outdated fashion accessory, relegated to politicians and my 79-year-old mother (no offense, Mom, or any government officials reading this). These days almost everyone has a smartphone, tablet or some device in hand, most of which display the time of day somewhere in the upper left or right corner. Heck, my twin boys can tell each other what time it is by checking it on their Nintendo DS devices. The Spider-Man watches we got for them a few years ago? In the top drawer of their dresser.

There are other factors to consider as well. Could such a device pack the processor punch that a smart device can? If not, then at best the iWatch will be a souped-up iPod Nano strapped onto a wristband. Then there's the fact that the watch is going to be made of curved glass, so it's clearly going to be a more fragile device than we usually seen from Apple. And let's not forget Apple's track record with devices getting hot after frequent use. I don't know about you, but I can see some silly lawsuits stemming from claims of burns and cuts.

[ Curious? Read What Would an Apple Watch Do? ]

On the other hand, Apple could be designing the device with specific purposes in mind. Rumors are circulating that the iWatch could be used in healthcare and fitness, tracking patient stats or athletic performance. That I could see, although I would still be wary of its fragile design.

With all this in mind, I asked the audience of the InformationWeek Daily their thoughts on the proposed Apple iWatch. Maybe there are more wristwatch enthusiasts out there than I'm aware of. Or perhaps such a smart device could bring them back into fashion.

Sure enough, I was way off base on watch wearers being a "dying breed":

Chris J: "I wear a watch all the time. It stands up to the rigors and abuse of sailing and camping. It keeps running long (months/years) after the charge on my iPhone dies."

Annie B.: "I wear a gold Ebel watch every day of my life. It doesn't play music. It has no fun apps. It just tells time in a reliable fashion. And it looks good. When I want to know the time, I don't have to fumble for a device stored in my pocketbook. All I have to do is check my wrist, a discreet action when in a boring situation."

Nick W: "Spend a few minutes looking at wristwatch forums or the growing attendance at international wristwatch shows (Baselworld, SIHH, etc.) and you'll see that quite a number of us aren't looking at our mobile or any other device for the time. I suspect that telling the time is just about the last thing the iWatch is intended to do."

Art: "Stop by Barnes & Noble sometime. You'll find 6-8 monthly/quarterly Watch magazines. There are high-end watches that run over $100,000 (a few even go for 2-3 times this amount). I get the feeling that if the silicon guys can tie up with the high end watch makers (high tech plus high style), there could be enough profit to make the research possible."

Reader Bry pointed out that a watch allows for discretion and respect, especially in a business world:

"The only reason I wear a watch is that in the corporate world, it's a little more acceptable to glance down at your watch rather than drag out your phone and look at it. Perception is you're disengaged when you start looking at your phone."

Meanwhile Jeff's unfortunate experience also makes a good argument for not using a smartphone for checking the time:

"If you live in big cities where criminals grab and run off with iPhones and the like, you revert to wearing a watch. That is what I did after my iPhone was stolen out of my hand on a city street. For the first time in 15 years or more, I am now wearing a watch to tell time and minimize taking out my iPhone on city streets."

Bill S. , however, remained unconvinced that the world needs an iWatch:

"I am baffled as to the reason for the iWatch. My iPod Nano (previous version) is fantastic as a watch, pedometer, FM radio, etc. Plus, its design is always a conversation starter!

Michael B's main concern was battery life:

"My Casio watch has a ten year battery. My Fitbit runs for three weeks between charges. My Kindle e-reader runs for eight weeks between charges. My dumb-phone runs for three weeks between charges (I turn it off at night

Larry, however, was open to the possibilities:

"I agree with the trend you described, but what we also see is a nation of one-handed people. Smartphone in one hand, latte to go in the other and no way to unlock the office door. Of course, this could lead to voice-activated everything."

Great thoughts, everyone! So what's yours? What features must an iWatch have to make you buy one? Do you still wear a watch, or do you get all your time-telling needs from your smartphone? Share your opinions below

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Cara Latham
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Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/20/2013 | 12:55:00 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
Maybe I am missing the point. I have a smartphone that tells me the time whenever I need it and will probably have the same functionality as smartphone apps that might be included in the iWatch. If I wanted to have a fitness app, I would download one for my phone.

I find Jeff's experience to be an exception; I work in NYC and have never had someone try to steal my smartphone when I took it out to look at the time while walking down the street. Someone who is alert and aware of his or her surroundings should have no problem. Provided the user is carelessly flaunting his or her device, this could happen with either a smartphone or an iWatch, so I remain unconvinced that an iWatch would really make me run to the Apple store.
PJS880
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PJS880,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/22/2013 | 5:06:59 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
I will say that when I first read about the iwatch I was highly skeptical. After reading this article there are some interesting points that I did not consider that would make this watch a desired item. First off I agree with Reader Bry, that it is not very professional to check your phone for the time. The people who are in your company do not know that you are just checking the time and might come off as unprofessional and disrespectful. Secondly I also agree with Jeff and that if you continue to pull your $200-600 phone out in public where people are preying on people who are unsuspecting, using your phone for a watch could be potentially dangerous and result in a loss of your phone. I also like TomGs point, that I did not consider, I could see value in this device if used for medical and sports applications that monitor other functions pertaining to your health.
A student sitting next to me in class just got a smart watch, I do not recall the manufacturer, but it essentially was a watch that sent notifications to him about texts, comments, and updates for his social site. For this purpose I do not see a huge market, based upon the size of the watch. It is one thing to read messages, and emails on a small screen I t quite another to try and do word editing on the same screen. Great article, and some great points made as well. I guess we all all see the measured success of the watch when it is released.

Paul Sprague
InformationWeek Contributor
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 4:20:55 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
LOL...fortunately for us, my Mom did graduate to a battery-powered watch.

T
Tom LaSusa
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Tom LaSusa,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 4:19:43 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
Something about reader 'Jeff's' unfortunate experience (in the article) has now struck a chord: This iWatch will no doubt have a distinct design. So what's going to stop the crooks from now becoming cognizant of people looking down at their wrists and their new fancy smart watches?

Yes, its alot easier to quickly glance at a watch and then cover it with a sleeve than pulling out a device and then fumbling to return it into a jacket or pocket. Still, I unfortunately foresee a new crime statistic coming soon.

This is why we can't have nice things.

Tom LaSusa
InformationWeek Community Manager
szupancic386
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szupancic386,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 12:44:29 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
I would definitely buy it, and wear it! I am searching for some time some reliable watch which would have some phone specs, not all of course (must be able to make/receive calls). Until now I found only BurgCC, sWaP and some cheap variants from china. Do I wear "normal" watch now, No. I have a smartphone and I use it a lot (work & private), but when I go to some event I do not like to wear it in my pocket, nor when I do sports (running, cycling). For me it would be similar as is desktop computer to tablet. You need both on different occasions. Phones are getting bigger, so some producers are already developing additional phone to a phone, but for this you need to have both with you all the time. and from men perspective it is probably more healthy to wear it on a hand than in a trousers pocket ;).
Andrew Hornback
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Andrew Hornback,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/21/2013 | 3:05:28 AM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
What if the iWatch is simply a second "monitor" for the iPhone? Displays time, calendar, latest e-mails/RSS feed info, but no other major functionality. I can see that working - not everyone wants to get their phone out all the time and show it off, especially on a crowded subway train, but being able to see when your next appointment is or that your friends are checking in at the usual party spot would be pretty cool. Or using it as a remote control for your music player app.

I can see something like this being done over Bluetooth or NFC depending on the distance away from the "base" unit. Should be feasible.

As to wearing a watch, I have to admit that I wear one while commuting but take it off once I get to the office because it's easier to type without it and makes for better ergonomics. Would I replace my Citizen Navihawk Blue Angels edition with an Apple iWatch? No, probably not... but I do have two wrists. :)

Andrew Hornback
InformationWeek Contributor
John Foley
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John Foley,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 10:36:51 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
The reference to your 79-year-old mother reminds me of something I saw recently in a department store in Venice, Fla., where 79 is about the average age. There on the discount shelf was an "automatic watch winder," an AC-powered device in a black leatherette storage case whose sole function is to wind a wristwatch. I took a picture of this hard-to-find gadget which I just post to my Twitter account, jfoley09@twitter. I guess once you get a watch, you need watch accessories -- just like an iPhone come to think of it.
Leo Regulus
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Leo Regulus,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 7:00:16 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
Many years ago I stated setting my Rolex very significantly wrong - like at least 3 and a half hours. After all, it's just a piece of status jewelry. From there I evolved to - 'a watch is really a sign of slavery'. Think about it. Besides, all those other slaves are wearing watches. If you need to know the time, just look at one of them. Of ask, 'Hey, what time is it?'. (And get the reply, ' It's time that you bought a watch.' (Bull) I haven't worn a watch in years now.
So, probably more people carry cell-phones than wear watches. Each one of those cells has a clock function on the main dial, hence, you always have access to the correct time.
Air Head alert: If your cell is permanently affixed to your ear, you can't see what time it is. You probably need a watch. Have a good day.
StuChap
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StuChap,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:44:15 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
I wear a Sony Smartwatch and use it as an adjunct for my phone. It allows me to read a text, see who is calling me, reject a call and a few other things. Why is it helpful? When I am driving and it is almost impossible to dig my phone out from under my coat I just check the watch to see what is going on and if I need to address it at that time. In a meeting it allows me to discretely read texts, see who is calling me and see e-mails without disrupting the meeting by pulling my phone out. Oh and yeah it let's me check the time by looking at my wrist.
djaeschke551
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djaeschke551,
User Rank: Apprentice
2/20/2013 | 6:24:56 PM
re: Apple iWatch: Readers Speak Out
Interesting that Bill S is "unconvinced that the world needs an iWatch", when in fact he's describing the type of watch that he would wear....

"I am baffled as to the reason for the iWatch. My iPod Nano (previous version) is fantastic as a watch, pedometer, FM radio, etc. Plus, its design is always a conversation starter!

He's describing a watch that works like a strapped on older ipod nano...given that model doesn't exist...I think he just noted that he would in fact like an iwatch...as long as it did what he noted.

I would love to have a smartwatch that extends the capabilities of my phone, but it would have too look great too. I didn't buy the old nano model and use it as a watch, but it looked awful as a watch...as soon as you wear something, it has meet certain personal sensibilities and tastes...just like a lot of watches do today. Plus the target market for this is the same group that would likely care as well how it looked. I would definitely give Apple more credence in building something that will both function and look good too. I don't want to just wear a colored chunk of metal and screen on my wrist...
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