Tim Bajarin: Understanding Apple’s wearable strategy

“Someone who I believe has a good sense of Apple’s thinking about wearables told me some months ago that if I wanted to understand part of Apple’s wearable strategy I needed to go to Disney World,” Tim Bajarin writes for Tech.pinions. “When I was at Disney World in Orlando recently, I tried to get a sense of what this person was talking about. While I had a great time with the family, I also spent quite a bit of time checking out the ID band technology Disney is using that is revolutionary for theme parks. I see now the most likely concept behind it represents one of the three key pillars of Apple’s future wearable device strategy.”

“As you know, Apple and Disney are very tight. Disney’s CEO Bob Iger sits on Apple’s board and Steve Jobs’ widow, Laurene Powell, sits on Disney’s board. There is no question in my mind Apple has gone to school on this band ID concept and we can expect this to be one of the key pillars of any wearable device Apple may some day bring to market,” Bajarin writes. “Although the rumors are of Apple doing an iWatch, I think that design idea is actually too limited. One design might be an ID band that might look more like a Nike Fuelband that tells time as well as counts steps and calories, but an additional feature would be as a wearable ID device and work much like Disney’s band. They could also do something like an iWatch that has a big screen and be feature rich. I imagine a band could be perhaps $99 while an iWatch, depending on memory and features, would be much higher.”

“I actually think the ID aspect of any wearable Apple brings out is probably central to its future functionality,” Bajarin writes. “This is speculative on my part but, after using the Disney band for seven days and seeing its incredible functionality, Apple has to be crazy not to make this part of any of their wearables. The ramifications for Apple’s future with this one ID implementation alone could make it a huge hit.”

Tons more in the full article – very highly recommended; read the whole thing!here.

Related article:
Disney ‘MagicBands’ showcases massive potential for Apple’s iWatch – March 6, 2013


  1. One of the better thought out speculations I’ve read in a long time. The guy can spell, has good grammar, and states his thoughts clearly, and explains his conclusions. Clearly, this man in not an analyst.

    1. He and his brother are consistently 2 of the best tech bloggers around as far as Apple is concerned. I don’t always agree with everything, but they are always very clear with their thinking, and obviously know how Apple works in a very granular way.

    2. Here’s some more speculation.
      Check out Sportstec’s Sportscode video analysis software, currently being used by the majority of teams at the World Cup, also the NBA, NHA, English and European Football leagues to analyse team tactics and strategy calls and how well they worked.
      Now think of a sensor-packed Apple iBand feeding Sportscode with individual personal biometric information to take that strategy analysis to the next level.
      Now think how many group activities could benefit from such a system.
      And it will tell the time 😀

  2. Why enter a pin if Apple’s product has all kinds of biometric sensors? I’m sure they’ll figure out a way to give Touch ID functionality while on the wrist. By wearing it, you’re already affirming your identity.

    1. I think this is why Apple has remained so steadfast on protecting the privacy of their users (among other reasons). Can you imagine giving Google carte Blanche to your entire life? It may seem like we (some of us) already trust them with a whole lot, but I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet if this type of functionality becomes commonplace.

  3. Someone who actually gets it. An Apple watch is for the faint of imagination, those who think with a deficit… Just like iPhone is everything else and more, way before it’s a “Phone”so too will be Apple’s data monitoring “iWatch” – Watch…

    1. Yes at last some imagination and insight to balance against the endless twaddle from those without a modicum of sense or imagination and can’t get beyond the word ‘watch’. To those people watch this space.

  4. Interesting this backs up what I said a few weeks back about how the iWatch can be an instant identifier especially when used with touch too where a conscious response is required in addition for example payments. But a device that through its ‘health’ sensors knows and confirms precisely who you are gives massive scope for automatic access to all sorts of barrier, physical or otherwise that needs authentication. No searching for cards, money, tickets, passes and practically impossible to mimic as it would only authenticate when its on the right wrist. The sooner we stop thinking of this as a watch the better.

  5. Back in the olden days, when RFID chips were very new, the company I worked for tried putting chips in the employee badges that everyone wore. The idea was to streamline the process for entering restricted areas and automate the access logging function. Those chips were found to be remarkably susceptible to failure in a bending mode and often displayed tool marks from a set of vice-grips.

    But things change. We subject ourselves to that level of tracking just by carrying a cell phone and pay good money for the privilege.

  6. The finger print ID thing is fine for banking and larger financial transactions but for everyday purchases, can be combersom and messy. Imagine being at the fast food or Starbucks and have to place your finger onto a smugged sensor – which someone will constantly have to keep it clean. In other words, not very user or operator friendly.

    Fully expect the iBeacon/BT and proximity (e.g., RFID) sensors to work automatically. Then the hard part is some other way of authenticating the owner/wearer of the device. How about some biometric combination that combines to a unique identifier or even authenticating with finger print on your own iDevice ahead of time with an experiation timeframe and proximity check between the wearable and iPhone?

    In all cases, this could be huge for Apple. Knowing them, they will cut a deal with major CC to split the fee (e.g., 30% of CC’s fee of 2.5% of purchase made through wearables) so no added cost to the consumers. The card reader mfg will be squeezed out and disappear.

    Btw, does anyone know if Apple engineers worked with Disney imagineering to come up with the wristband implementation?? I’m sure its patented and protected, given the level of investment by Disney.

    1. While Tim Bajarin didn’t explicitly say so in his articule, I’m willing to bet that Apple worked extensively with Disney in creating the prototypes for this Disney band, and implementing it in the field at Walt Disney World, since Apple has the necessary experience with creating this kind of computerized device. This may also explain why we have not seen any leaks of any Apple iWatch product: it’s been hiding in plain sight at Disney.

  7. One of the key strengths of the Disney band is that it is you forget its on you and its not delicate – even waterproof since it has no display or seams of any kind. I stayed at a Disney resort in March and for the four days, I left my wallet in my suitcase and even started leaving my phone in the room so I would not have to watch it by the pool. I walked down to the pool, jumped in, climbed out, got a beer at the poolside bar, bought dinner for the family, hopped on the bus to one of the parks for fireworks, got a snack (and another beer), opened the room door when we got back… It soon felt like part of me instead of a delicate electronic instrument like the iPhone or iPod that can’t get wet or be dropped or a wallet that can get lost or swiped. Strangely, almost a feeling of freedom with less worry. Its actually hard to describe, but once we left Disney world, I couldn’t believe I had to go back to habitually checking my pockets every twenty minutes for wallet and iPhone. If the Apple band get reach this level of lifestyle integration in this next few years (and warn my if my heart attack indicators are spiking ta boot) I would pay $1000 for it no problem.

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