Apple Watch unveiled: Execs have their say on enterprise and branding use cases
After one previous launch, endless hype, and media keyboards being pummelled into submission, the Apple Watch has finally been fully unveiled at a press event in California.
First, what we learned (or were reminded of):
- The Watch comes in stainless steel, anodized aluminium for sports models, and 18 carat gold cases in yellow or rose
- It's available immediately for download on iOS 8.2, supports Wi-Fi and has an approximately 18 hour battery life
- Pricing starts at $549 with the gold watch maxing out at $10,000, and will start shipping on April 24 in Australia, Canada, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, the UK and the US
The Watch allows users to customise watch faces by adding calendar and weather apps, and comes complete with its Tactic Engine to alert users. As one would expect, users won’t be tethered to their smartphone, screening calls, messages, and other alerts, through the watch. Any notification users can get on their iPhone today can also go through the Watch.
Apple CEO Tim Cook had previously mentioned the capabilities of the Watch to prompt users about their lack of activity, and this was a big theme at the event – including a specific Workout app to provide detailed measurement of health and fitness activities.
So what do executives think as the Watch is unveiled?
The predictions have been out in force. Dependent on who you believe, Apple will account for between 25% and 50% of wearable technology use cases in 2015. Either way, everyone is agreed on how major a force the Apple Watch will be in the market.
Ben Wood is chief of research at CCS Insight. The analyst house expects Apple to provide approximately 20 million of the 75m global wearable shipments in 2015. Wood notes that while the Apple Watch will “unquestionably” sell in millions because of the strong fan base and brand advocacy, questions still remain on the smartwatch as a viable piece of technology.
Apple will be hoping consumers grow into the Apple Watch in the same way iPad owners did
“The key challenge Apple has to address today is giving ordinary iPhone owners a reason to buy its new smartwatch,” he said. “To date, consumers have been left wondering why they need a smartwatch in their lives.”
Wood likens the nascent Apple Watch to the iPad, and expects part of Apple’s marketing strategy is overcoming the fear of the unknown. “We believe the iPad had similar characteristics to Apple Watch as it is a non-subsidised device which consumers bought without a clear understanding of exactly why they needed it,” he added. “Apple will be hoping consumers will ‘grow into’ the Apple Watch in the same way that iPad owners did.”
One of the more interesting areas the Apple Watch could play into is the enterprise. Spearheaded by the first generation Google Glass, previous wearable products have been less than consumer friendly, and from a workplace perspective, a device which can deliver smartphone data in industries where employees have to use their hands is appealing, if only to remove the HR red tape.
Kevin Roberts is general manager of platform and alliances at FinancialForce, which offers its customers ERP functions on smartwatches among other wearables. He argues the Apple Watch will “open the floodgates” for the enterprise wearable market.
“Whether it’s reacting immediately to an urgent notification, replacing staff, authorising purchases, connecting through social apps like Facebook and Twitter, acting on a sales update, or providing an employee with instant feedback, our customers are going to find that the Apple Watch will make them more social, streamlined and effective in communicating,” he said.
Brands are going to be crucial to the Apple Watch's success
He added: “This is just the beginning. Now that Apple is introducing the right hardware and initial app partners, developers will start to innovate and produce business apps that will improve workflow for our customers for years to come.”
From a brand perspective, there will be a new screen for advertising eyeballs. The use case is unclear as of yet, but the release of Apple’s product could mark a watershed. John Newbold, co-founder of digital product and service studio 383, argues the smartwatch could provide an interesting route for brands.
“The interesting thing about the Apple Watch from our point of view is that brands are going to be crucial to its success,” he said. “Customers don’t want brands to constantly bombard them with advertising – but if a brand can deliver a truly useful experience, especially one that stops people from having to reach for their phones, then the Apple Watch may well prove to be the perfect new device that no-one knew they needed.”
Newbold argues the event is “make or break” for the smartwatch, explaining: “It’s odds on that the launch of the Apple Watch will prove to be a watershed moment for the smartwatch.” However Wood sees it differently. “It’s an incredibly important product for the company and CEO Tim Cook, but reports that this is a make or break product for him are exaggerated,” he said. “The incredible success the company has delivered under his stewardship speaks for itself.”
What do you make of the Apple Watch?
Interested in hearing industry leaders discuss subjects like this and sharing their use-cases? Attend the co-located IoT Tech Expo, Blockchain Expo, AI & Big Data Expo and Cyber Security & Cloud Expo World Series with upcoming events in Silicon Valley, London and Amsterdam and explore the future of enterprise technology.