Is the Apple Watch Essential?

Is the Apple Watch Essential?

When the first iPad launched, I remember thinking “this is just a giant iPhone – why would I ever want that? The iPad is definitely going to flop.”

Five years since the first-generation iPad was released, I still don’t have one. But many millions of people do. With more than 200 million iPads sold, the Apple brand is as popular as it’s ever been, with a dedicated fan base that rivals any.

The iPad succeeded because it offered the features and easy transportability of an iPhone, while abandoning the bulkiness of the MacBook. While you could watch movies on your iPhone, the screen was way too small for an optimal viewing experience. Movies on your Macbook are more enjoyable, but consumers complained about its bulk and short battery life.

The iPad wasn’t Apple’s first attempt at a tablet. The company tried back in 1994 (without Steve Jobs) but failed miserably.

But Steve Jobs correctly foresaw the demand, and eventually it met with great success. The iPad quintessentially filled a void that people had given up. And many other companies have since tried to duplicate the iPad’s success.

Today the new Apple “buzz” is around the Apple Watch. But one must wonder what void is this product filling? The design is beautiful, as most Apple products tend to be, and I’m sure it’s well-constructed.

But would I pay $350-$500 for a watch? Personally no, for reasons outlined below. But there’s a large contingency of Apple enthusiasts and athletes who will. These people will make a case about buying it as an exercise accessory.

Or maybe they’ll cite the ease of simply flicking their wrist to use Apple Pay. Or maybe they just want to be the “first kid on their block” with one.

But what consumers need to acknowledge is the current version of the Apple Watch will require users have an iPhone, pair the watch with said iPhone, and carry the iPhone with them at all times to use the Watch.

Personally having to carry around an iPhone in order to use my watch seems counter intuitive for those who want to use the watch while jogging or hitting the. As I see it, your iPhone should be a complement to your watch, not a mandatory component for its use.

But let’s talk about a bigger issue: Apple is also alienating a large group of potential buyers: non-iPhone users. If Apple didn’t make the iPod PC-friendly back in 2002, their success might have been directly affected. Making the iPod flexible across Windows and the Mac OS enabled the company to convert non-Mac users into Apple customers.

The potential to convert an Android or Samsung user to an Apple Watch user is going to be low if they’re forced to first buy an iPhone. Perhaps the next generation of the Apple Watch will work independently of a phone. We’ll have to wait and see.

This product certainly isn’t essential now – and may never be. But the market indicates there is (and will continue to be) a high demand for technology products that enable transportability and ease of use, with a simple but elegant design. We’ll have to wait and see if Apple takes advantage of that consumer demand, without linking it to choice of mobile phones.

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Gillian Lynch