Apple Watch 2.0: Why You Should Wait - InformationWeek

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3/8/2015
11:06 AM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Apple Watch 2.0: Why You Should Wait

The Apple Watch could be the best smartwatch yet, but it could be better still. Apple Watch 2.0 anyone?

Apple Watch: 5 Facts, 5 Questions
Apple Watch: 5 Facts, 5 Questions
(Click image for larger view and slideshow.)

Apple is expected to reveal more details about its first wearable communications device, the Apple Watch, at a media event on Monday, March 9.

I expect the Apple Watch will be sell well enough -- around 15 million units this year -- but will fall short of Apple's favorite adjective, "revolutionary."

The Apple Watch will nonetheless make plenty of money for the company -- Apple's ownership of its technology stack and the social-economic profile of its customers means it can sustain healthy profit margins. The Apple Watch pricing starts at $349, significantly more than other smartwatches, and the 18-karat gold Apple Watch Edition could be 10 times that, or more.

Will it be a compelling product? It will seem so to some consumers, as status symbol, as a convenient communication tool, and perhaps even as a replacement for car keys and other forms of authentication. But appealing to a small core of people is not enough to transform wearables into the next big thing.

(Image: Apple)

(Image: Apple)

The Mac was revolutionary because of its graphical user interface, and it improved further with the transition to Unix-based Mac OS X.

The iPod was revolutionary because, with iTunes, it made digital music management and digital commerce work, for customers and recording companies.

The iPhone was revolutionary because it was really useful to have a touch-based, Internet-connected computer and telephone in one's pocket.

The iPad was revolutionary because it was more portable and easier to use and manage than a laptop, while being just about as functional.

The Apple Watch isn't aiming for that kind of disruption. It is an accessory, rather than a free-standing product. It requires an iPhone. It extends the owner's iPhone by providing access to certain Apple Watch-enabled iOS apps through an Apple Watch interface. But, so far, there's no sign it will be as indispensable as smartphones have become.

[Read about IBM and Apple working on apps together.]

The Apple Watch will send text and email messages, as well as sketches, vibrations, and emoji. It will make calls, monitor the wearer's pulse, record audio, and translate speech to text using Siri. It will allow wearers to share their locations and to tell time.

All these things can be done with a smartphone, though perhaps less conveniently.

But owning an Apple Watch may add some inconvenience, even as it removes some. Apple has reportedly struggled to make the battery last a day. According to 9to5Mac, the battery lasts for about five hours of heavy usage, and will need to be charged daily under normal usage. Apple's MagSafe charger represents a vast improvement over a USB mini-connector as a charging cable, but charging is still a chore, particularly when you consider that traditional luxury watches can run for two to five years on a battery. What's more, a traditional luxury watch won't be obsolete in 12 to 24 months, nor is it likely to be left behind by advancing system software after four or five years.

In order for the Apple Watch to be broadly compelling, it needs five things:

Better battery life: It's bad enough to have to worry about phones, tablets, and laptops when traveling. Apple Watch battery life should last more than a day. The Pebble watch battery lasts five to seven days.

Wireless/kinetic charging: Apple's MagSafe is nice, but a watch that could charge itself through kinetic motion would be better. And if not that, support for non-proprietary wireless charging would be a welcome improvement.

iPhone independence: The fact that the Apple Watch requires an iPhone is a deal-breaker for me. There's something to be said for Apple's approach in terms of allowing customers to delay upgrades -- instead of buying a new watch every year or two you can just upgrade your phone. But the iPhone requirement tells me that the electronics aren't there yet -- apps have to run on the iPhone to avoid running down the Apple Watch battery even faster. Once the technology catches up to Apple's ambitions, and becomes its own device, I expect version two or three will be far more interesting.

An emergency transmitter: The $17,000 Breitling Emergency II has an emergency transmitter than can be activated to locate the wearer, even in the absence of WiFi or a cellular signal. It relies on the Cospas-Sarsat satellite distress system. The inclusion of such a transmitter, particularly at a more reasonable price, would transform the Apple Watch from an attractive novelty into an essential survival tool for anyone traveling in remote areas.

A killer app: The Wall Street Journal framed Apple's challenge succinctly when it asked, "What Exactly Is an Apple Watch For?" To date, Apple hasn't offered a convincing answer. It will be useful for a variety of tasks, but it's hard to see how it will be transformative or essential. Notifications and messaging can be handled adequately using a smartphone. Apple Watch could improve mobile payments and authentication, online and in person. People would gladly pay for the Apple Watch if it meant never having to manage another online password, but that's easier said than done.

Whatever Apple reveals at its media event on Monday, March 9, you can rest assured that version 2.0 of the Apple Watch will be better than the version expected to ship next month. Buy one if you must. I'm going to glance at my unencumbered wrist and enjoy the absence of notifications, messages, or any other claims on my attention.

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Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful ... View Full Bio
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VadymS867
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VadymS867,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/5/2015 | 3:46:15 PM
Re: Nothing smart about this watch...or the iPhone
Wow! Why are you even reading an article about technology? You clearly hate it. "Yes, the 'smart' phones not being smart is not unique to the iPhone, they all are nothing else than dumb terminals that are mobile with a pretty screen." I'm not sure if you've been living under a rock for the past 6 years, but this is what we call smart phones. So any other definition for what a smart phone should be in your imagination does not actually apply to the real world, or real world definitions. The smart phone came up with solutions to problems that didn't exist. That's what progress is, you come up with a new technology, people find uses for it, and now it's an integral part of their lives. The smart watches are good for monitoring health levels, so as the technology progresses, it can become invaluable to people that are trying to live healthy lives. This is just a first step for smartwatches as this article points out, improvements have to be made. But nonetheless, you still have to learn how to walk before you can run. The first tv sets were not 3D 4K sets, they weren't even colored. Just give the technology some time and don't be so quick to judge something as unnecesary. 
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
3/10/2015 | 7:19:48 AM
Nothing smart about this watch...or the iPhone
I fully agree with the points made in the article. This is a dumb watch that is useless without an equally dumb iPhone that needs to ask a real computer for everything. Yes, the 'smart' phones not being smart is not unique to the iPhone, they all are nothing else than dumb terminals that are mobile with a pretty screen.

The Apple watch like all the other 'smart' watches are a solution to a problem that doesn't exist. And then it comes with obvious design flaws such as having it not even run 24 hours on one charge.
Keefen
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Keefen,
User Rank: Apprentice
3/9/2015 | 9:20:12 PM
Re: It is revolutionary
Haha so you are trying to tell me the Apple Watch is dung inside of a watch? Look I said I agree with the author on some points I just mean you can't call the Mac GUI, iPod and iPhone revolutionary according to his very own argument but I respect your opinion. I guess my point was the watch is going to blow open the fad phase of wearables so not just well off people will have them, it's going to make it 'cool' because Apple put it out and people will start buying the other brands more. Also I tried to point out in my opinion a truly revolutionary wearable with the Cricet android bracelet. But I appreciate you calling me out. And I do wish the Apple watch was better but, I have to say again the idea 'wait for version two because it'll have more or better features' is just funny to me because of course the 2nd version will be better that's the point of making a second version! To answer you though I think they're doing it right because I like the touch screen layout and its capabilities compared to other smart watches I've seen. Just my aesthetics I suppose. Maybe I am just a dung beetle :P
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/9/2015 | 7:23:13 PM
Re: It is revolutionary

Just exactly how is this watch "doing it right"? The author quite correctly points out how the other platforms did do things the right way EXCEPT for this device. If you think that maybe because the watch "looks good" or is "machined" or has that special "Apple gold" remember, you can package dung in a top class box and put a bow on it but it is still dung.

hlubinv8l
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hlubinv8l,
User Rank: Strategist
3/9/2015 | 7:21:51 PM
Re: First Apple Watch or...
"The point is that version 1.0 is really a gimmick designed to see how gullible the fanboi base is."

 

Nope. Apple made the Apple Watch just to piss off rabid haters like you.

 

That's the only reason they made it.

 

(We now return to something resembling rationality. ;-))
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/9/2015 | 7:18:10 PM
Re: First Apple Watch or...

The point is that version 1.0 is really a gimmick designed to see how gullible the fanboi base is. In tech everyone knows to stay away from version 1.0 of anything. Something as overpriced and questionable as this further reinforces that admonition.

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/9/2015 | 7:15:47 PM
Re: Price

Honestly these prices are so insane and unrealistic. Right now there will be the usual fanbois scarfing them up. But the public will realize this device is not worth the premium and watch afficianados will never accept this as a luxury watch. Even the gold version.

tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
3/9/2015 | 7:13:15 PM
Re: Price

I couldn't agree more. I actually own a few top end watches. Not only do they hold their value but they never become obsolete. You are paying for the craftsmanship and complications. There are real differences that justify the pricing. With the Apple watch, the $10,000 gold watch functions exactly the same way as the "cheap" $349 version. You get no additional functionality. The only difference is the gold case. And Apple marketing is trying to sell some rubbish about how their gold is better than regular gold. That is trly ludicrous.

Thomas Claburn
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Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
3/9/2015 | 5:34:03 PM
Re: Price
Part of what allows watchmakers to charge tens of thousands of dollars for a watch is that mechanical hardware can retain its price over decades. A Rolex from the 1960s is probably still going to cost a lot and may show up at auction houses like Christie's. I have trouble seeing that for a software-dependent product. In fifty years, the Apple Watch Edition will probably not work because the software and wireless standards will have moved on. And if that's the case, then it will depreciate in value over time rather than appreciate like pure hardware.
H@mmy
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[email protected],
User Rank: Ninja
3/9/2015 | 4:25:26 PM
Price
$349 for 38mm, $399 for 42mm sizes.
Apple Watch (steel case) starts at $549 (38mm) and goes up to $1,049, depending on band. 42mm is $50 more.
Apple Watch Edition (18-karat gold case) starts at $10,000.

 
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