After he watched Apple’s presentation and reviewed the company’s website regarding the Apple Watch, a friend sent me a message:
I’m not sold on the Watch, yet, and I need to hold each new iPhone in my hand in order to decide between iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. As a runner, longtime Nike+ FuelBand user, Nike+ iPod and Nike+ Running app user on iPhone and also a GPS watch user, there are some important issues Apple Watch doesn’t seem to have solved as far as a fitness device.
My GPS watch [ESN WR72 Alpha] is awesome for running and especially on the golf course, but, with GPS on, the battery lasts for just about 54 holes of golf [about 12 hours]. That’s it. So, I clearly understand why Apple has left GPS out of the Watch – it’s due to battery life, if not (even more) additional thickness. (In some shots, Apple Watch looks thick. In others, it looks very wearable. I need to try one on to make up my mind on that point.) Still, Apple seems to have gone very far out on the limb with so many options and finishes – all the way up to 18K gold, all of those different bands and two sizes for what I see as a 1st generation device (more beta than Generation 1 at this point, to be honest) that will need to be replaced with the next generation in a year or two.
Also, Apple Watch seems to let the user get a heartbeat while in motion, without stopping. This is a big deal to runners like me. We don’t like to stop, or wear chest straps, so that’s a big selling point right there.
Yes, GPS is a battery pig, as any iPhone (or iPhone knockoff) user knows. Apple was right to leave it out of Apple Watch. Unless and until we get some sort of portable power breakthrough (that guy or gal is going to get filthy rich!), we’re stuck dealing with battery life limitations.
As for the many different Apple Watch options — Jony Ive told ABC News, “When you actually do the calculations, it’s millions and millions” — I believe that Apple figured they needed to go “all in” to prove they’re totally committed to Watch and, with their enormous cash reserves, they’ll simply take the hit on whatever inventory management issues come their way. When entering a new market, with Apple’s resources, it’s preferable to spend rather than look like they’re just tentatively dipping a toe in by offering just one or two Watch options.
Further, and even more importantly, the huge range of Apple Watch options (sizes, finishes, materials, bands) makes it really difficult, if not impossible, for Samsung, Xiaomi, and the rest of the knockoff peddlers to come up with so many well-designed options. Sure, they can come up with a bunch of colored watch bands, but are they going to look, feel, and work like all of those already painstakingly designed by Jony Ive and Marc Newson? No, of course not. Just like iPhone knockoffs, they won’t come remotely close to the full experience that only Apple offers to their customers. The inventory management alone, of which Tim Cook is the world’s preeminent expert, would kill the likes of Samsung and Xiaomi et al.
Apple is focused on doing things for customers that no other company on earth can do. If patents and the law won’t protect Apple’s ideas, creating and accomplishing things that are impossible to replicate is the only true method of protection that exists for Apple’s IP (hence the huge sapphire investment, the Liquidmetal licensing, etc.)
Back to fitness: iPhone is not required for Apple Watch unless you want a maps and location of your runs. Apple Watch has a built-in accelerometer, so it’ll be able track your steps, distance, and pace (via a pedometer that you can calibrate to your stride). Therefore, even without iPhone, you’ll know the how far you’ve gone, you just won’t know where you’ve gone. If you want a map of your route, you’ll need to strap the iPhone to your arm or carry it in your hand as usual. For avid runners who want course mapping and who also lust after the mammoth iPhone 6 Plus (6.22 inches (158.1 mm) x 3.06 inches (77.8 mm) x 0.28 inch (7.1 mm) at 6.07 ounces (172 grams), this will create a dilemma. You may want to go with the iPhone 6 instead.
Unlike my friend, I am sold on Apple Watch, so in closing I’ll simply repeat a bit of what I wrote just after Apple Watch was unveiled:
Apple Watch already does so much, but once third-party developers get a hold of WatchKit and really dig in, the sky’s the limit! The Apple Watch is going to be a massive hit that sells millions upon millions of units.
SteveJack is a long-time Macintosh user, former web designer, multimedia producer and a regular contributor to the MacDailyNews Opinion section.
Apple Watch, the world’s first real smartwatch, will be a massive hit – September 9, 2014