The Apple Watch. Credit: Apple
Two years ago, I asked Creative Strategies analyst Ben Bajarin and curiousrat.com's Harry Marks -- both of them experts in all things Apple -- to share their ideas on what a successful mass-market wearable would be. In a world of smartphones, tablets, notebooks and miscellaneous gadgets, would there be a mass-market audience for yet another device to charge and keep track of? And would a smartwatch from Apple be disruptive enough to matter?
Apple, which unveiled the Apple Watch in September (it's due out in April and starts at $349), faces a modern audience for whom watches have become increasingly irrelevant. With wearables already on the market mostly limited to a tech-savvy fitness crowd, it's natural to ask whether the Apple Watch will be yet another device trying to fix a problem that doesn't exist.
Some analysts remain skeptical Apple will succeed with its Watch -- I had some doubts two years ago -- but after spending the past few months using competing products, and after studying Apple's plans for the device, it's clear to me that Apple is about to disrupt the market again. That's assuming, of course, everything works as advertised.
One size does not fit all
Originally, I was afraid the Apple Watch would look like the Microsoft Band: a techy bracelet (read: dorky) that wouldn't achieve the sales numbers Apple would want. Two years ago, Marks summed up the issue: "[Watches] are personal statements, and one watch does not fit every outfit. An Apple watch -- hell, any smart watch -- isn't going to fit every style and occasion, which makes it a less appealing idea."
In other words, the one-size-fits-all mentality wouldn't work for a mass-market audience whose sole purpose for wrist-wear is fashion. And a play for that mass market audience certainly wouldn't work if the device looks dorky. (The same concern has been raised with Google Glass.)
Apple designers anticipated this, and skirted the issue by making their Watch actually look like a watch. And to appeal to a wider audience, Apple created a line of three distinct collections comprised of increasingly finer materials available in two sizes and three price points, as well as a host of gorgeously-designed interchangeable watch straps, allowing for personalization alongside the customizable software watch faces.
The Apple Watch team understood that to attract a wider audience, customization and personalization would be key to Watch's success.
The Crown makes it King
As it did with the iPhone in 2007 and the iPad in 2010, Apple usually side-swipes established industries with market-changing devices, attacking existing problems with a clever combination of well-designed -- and well thought-out -- hardware and software.
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