November 11, 2014 Leave a comment
Some people say smart watches, like Android Wear watches or Apple Watch, are a product with no market and no need. The reasoning behind it is that we can already do everything a smart watch can do with our smart phone. So how could smart watches find a wide-spread adoption? I think Apple has the successful formula in mind already.
Market it as a fashion item
Smart Watch is distinct from our smart phone in that it is worn on our wrist. Since we often wear fashion items on our wrist, people would buy a watch just for the fashion reason alone. This is how the Swiss luxury watch industry survived the onslaught from cheap Japanese quartz watch competitors. Apple understands this lesson well. Unlike the original iPhone which was released with one model and one color, Apple Watch comes with 2 sizes, 6 different custom alloys including 2 18k gold alloy, 6 different bands with each band having several different colors, all these grouped into 3 distinct editions. It is a nightmare for supply chain SKU management, but this is what it takes to build a fashion item.
Migrate existing use cases, making them more convenient
All watch makers understand this point. They have all made glancing notification a top priority. Instead of pulling out your phone to see each incoming email or text, you can simply glance down your watch.
While Apple is doing the same thing, it is going one step beyond. Apple purchased Beats not only for their music streaming service, but more importantly for their headphone business. They are reportedly making an Apple branded bluetooth headphone, and I think this is designed for the Apple Watch. Listening to music is going to be an important use case. It is not only limited to young folks, I also observe many people like to listen to their iPod during workout. When you strap you iPod to your arm, a wired earphone may be acceptable, but if you were to listen to music from your Apple Watch on your wrist, the wire will be a significant disadvantage. Instead, a bluetooth headphone will greatly improve the experience. With Beats’ existing user base in the young audience, they can easily move these young folks off iPod onto Apple Watch. My prediction is that Apple Watch will function as a stand-alone music player even when it is not paired with an iPhone.
Create new use cases
A key difference of a smart watch from a smart phone is that it is worn on your wrist, thus it is finally able to track your fitness intimately. Apple emphasized on its use in health and fitness, and has designed a built-in fitness tracking app aimed at replacing activity trackers such as Fitbit or Jawbone. But, its tracking capability is beyond a simple fitness tracker.
For example, our Jamo Dance (Jamo Dance on Android) product could use the Apple Watch to track your dance moves. VimoFit product demonstrated that you could track in-home/in-gym exercises and automatically count repetitions with a watch’s built-in motion sensors, you can even use our VimoGolf product to track your golf swing, both are something not possible to do with just your mobile phone.
With the focus on the right design concepts and on key use cases, I think Apple has cracked the secret sauce on how to jump start the smart watch market. I would not be surprised if they sell tens of millions of Apple Watches in the first year. I would be the first in line to purchase one.