Apple Watch’s challenge: Defining its purpose

“When Apple Inc. started developing its smartwatch, executives envisioned a state-of-the-art health-monitoring device that could measure blood pressure, heart activity and stress levels, among other things, according to people familiar with the matter,” Daisuke Wakabayashi reports for The Wall Street Journal.

“But none of those technologies made it into the much-anticipated Apple Watch, due in April. Some didn’t work reliably. Others proved too complex,” Wakabayashi reports. “And still others could have prompted unwanted regulatory oversight, these people said.”

“That left Apple executives struggling to define the purpose of the smartwatch and wrestling with why a consumer would need or want such a device. Their answer, for now, is a little bit of everything: displaying a fashion accessory; glancing at information nuggets more easily than reaching for a phone; buying with Apple Pay; communicating in new ways through remote taps, swapped heartbeats or drawings; and tracking daily activity,” Wakabayashi reports. “Apple’s ability to lure millions of users to a new type of device will help prod software developers to create the types of enticing apps that boosted the appeal of the iPhone and iPad. That eases the burden of conceiving and delivering a killer feature from the get-go. ‘This whole notion that there needs to be a killer app in an Apple product just isn’t true,’ said J.P. Gownder, an analyst at Forrester Research. ‘For different people, different things will pop.'”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote of Apple Watch at the end of last year:

Apple Pay alone will sell the device.

[Thanks to MacDailyNews Reader “Dan K.” for the heads up.]

18 Comments

  1. I wasn’t going to get one until I learned of the join release of a glucose monitoring device and app by an existing company planning to join the Apple Phone family. As a pre-diabetic patient, having the ability to closely monitor my blood sugar to learn how my choices of food, exercise, etc. affect my glucose level will greatly enhance my ability to keep my sugars at good levels. I will buy an Apple watch just for this.

    1. @cococanuck, while I agree with your needs for effective monitoring (I need it as well!), excuse me please but who is this existing company of which you write?

      I have a DEXCOM device, and as I understand it I may not need to carry a receiver, I will still need to purchase a sensor (@ $100/week) and transmitter (@$600.00 every 6 months).

      What I am hoping is that someone affiliated with Apple or an Apple developer will come up with a way to measure glucose levels through the skin, or by perspiration or some other method rather than taking a blood sample.

      In this fashion they will own at least this segment of the medical market, turning it upside down (as they did with music) saving everyone money.

      Thank you for your posting and for perhaps your response.

  2. “Apple Pay alone will sell the device.”

    That’s actually quite myopic. The US provides Apple with only 40% of its income. There’s a whole BIG world out there beyond the US boarders which cannot use Apple Pay yet or for the foreseeable future. When Apple Pay comes to China, India and Europe, it will be a significant driver for the Watch, but until then, the watch will have to sell on other features…

    1. LOL. God forbid that Apple watch sells on the basis of Apple pay. We know we can’t sell anything to just US customers, because that’s racist or colonialist or something.

  3. Guess I’m still hoping they saved some secret awesome stuff for the final reveal. Because, yeah, wrist notifications are very useful. But worth buying something, charging it, wearing it (I don’t wear watches), and just generally dealing with it? Not really.

    Really useful to me would be workout information (counting reps, effort, charting it), heart rate interpretations (“it’s getting tough for you to do three flights of stairs. Did you notice?”), and insight into calories eaten and burned. That sort of thing.

  4. At $249 i would be getting it on launch day. At $349 i’m just not sure. Right now, it just seems like a device that does everything my phone does, but not as well, with the exception of the heart rate sensor. At $349 i’d expect this device to operate on it’s own and not require an iPhone. At this point it’s an accessory that doesn’t offer me any new functionality that I couldn’t get by purchasing a fitness band, and should be priced closer to the iPod Touch, if not even closer to the Apple TV.

  5. Ironic really: I stopped wearing a watch because the iPhone took over.

    Now I’m expected to pick up the watch-wearing habit again.

    I keep an open mind, but the Apple Watch will have to be shock- and waterproof for starters – and include some amazingly must-have features.

    1. I’m with you on this. *Some* kind of recognized water proof rating must be in place on the non-sport versions before I’ll consider them.

      Now, it’s not impossible Apple will in fact release them with this; there’s precedent for them doing last-minute changes between announcement and public availability of a new product, such as the iPhone itself switching from plastic to glass screens just one month before it was sold to the public.

      http://www.businessinsider.com/steve-jobs-new-iphone-screen-2012-1

      And these watches will not have the luxury of cases like the iPad or iPhone have to protect against shocks and water. Apple Watches *must* be able to protect themselves against minor shocks and moderate water contact.

    1. It does have a heart rate sensor. That’s incorporated into the light sensor array on the bottom of the watch.

      A third party company announced last week that they would be offering a glucose monitoring product that involved an under skin sensor talking to its iPhone app, and was HealthKit compatible.

  6. To different people, different things will pop, Oy vey. Cluelessness reigns. If a phone replaced a watch for most people, why go back to a watch? I can’t tell Apple what to do, but I sure don’t see any real reason for a watch. The selling points are marginal improvements over existing solutions. I think this is a bridge too far and Apple has reached the edge of the RDF.

    In fact, if you think about it, isn’t Apple losing its revolutionary edge, here? ipod -> iPhone -> iPad -> Apple Watch? Look at the trend of the hardware over time, too — less and less choices, less and less creativity, duller corporate colors. Sad, really.

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