Apple Watch: Game-Changer, or Failure to Launch?

*NOTE: I use Apple products in my everyday life. I have MacBook Pros at home and at work. I have the iPhone5s and cannot function without my iPad at home. I also came from an Android phone prior to switching to the iPhone5s. This blog is an unbiased view of what I think the market was expecting.*

So the rumors were true and Apple has finally released its long-awaited Apple Watch. It has interchangeable bands, sapphire glass, various metal densities, multiple colors, reuse of the watch crown, multiple size watch faces, and many other features.

So what does this all mean? Well, it’s hard to tell right now since Apple has not yet released the SDK for Apple Watch, but you can infer some items from the demo provided from Apple’s launch event for iPhone 6 and the Apple Watch. In this post I’ll take a look at some of the things that stuck out to me about the Apple Watch launch and specs that were announced yesterday.

Design

The design of the watch is nothing new. A square design. Apple did, however, add the crown that acts as a scroll for lists and a zoom feature for the home screen and other applications. I think the biggest win for Apple in this area was the band feature. The bands are easily interchangeable and come in many different styles. They made sure that this watch would not be a fashion eyesore, which follows the trend of FitBit teaming with Tory Burch and other fashion companies partnering up for fashionable wearables.

Connectivity

Apple failed to meet expectations here, in my opinion. So far, the Watch seems to be an extension of the iPhone. Push notifications, some standalone applications (e.g., connecting with other Watch users to draw pictures or share a heartbeat), but most importantly, it cannot work without the iPhone.

What does this mean? If I want to go running with my Apple Watch, I have to bring my iPhone along for the ride. I know what some of you are thinking, “You have to do the same with any other smartwatch.” This is correct, but my expectation was the ability for the watch to function standalone with enough built-in memory to store information like GPS and elevation, then sync with Apple Health.

The M8 chip in the iPhone 6 Plus has the functionality of elevation through barometric pressure and other goodies but was not integrated with the Apple Watch.

User Experience

I think the Watch has a clunky user interface. The home screen is littered with apps and you have to zoom in to get to individual apps. Furthermore, it seems that Apple went down the customizable route that Android has for various screens on the Watch, but in a confusing way, especially for Apple. You would expect a simple, easy-to-customize experience, but instead you have over 1 million variations for reading your time.

The best feature of the Watch could possibly be the predictive text analytics. When someone texts me Sushi or Mexican for dinner tonight, I can automatically respond with either Sushi or Mexican. The software will identify that it is a question and provide me with a quick way to respond.

Battery Life

From what I hear, the Apple Watch needs to be charged daily. Enough said.

Price

For $350 for a watch that I need to charge daily and does not include multiple bands, I’m looking at a very expensive watch. Especially considering the fact that I do not have a $400/year watch budget (as I would think most Americans do not) it is hard to swallow the price point. I need to come to terms that I will have a very outdated watch in a year or two and I will be burning a hole in my pocket.

Overall

I think Apple did a good job of jamming as much as they could into this product. As a colleague of mine said, “Apple went down the Samsung route of packing it full of features and hoping some would stick.”

Will Apple sell hundreds of thousands of these Watches come early 2015 (or pre-order in December)? Absolutely! Is it a must-have product that will revolutionize entire industries and have people lining up outside Apple stores for them? I think not. As they say, time will tell…

Brian Oh

Brian Oh

Product Manager

Brian Oh is a Product Manager at 3Pillar Global. He has successfully launched several products ranging from large scale SaaS products to quick turnaround iOS and Android applications. Prior to joining 3Pillar Global, Brian was heavily involved in the Federal Government sector with Booz Allen Hamilton, SAIC, CGI Federal, and Ernst & Young for the Department of Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Administrative Offices of the US Courts, and Veteran Affairs, respectively.

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