About a year ago I started wearing a wrist watch again. It’s wasn’t because I needed a watch (although I do prefer the more subtle way of checking the time) but I was trying to prepare myself for the much prophesied explosion in wearables.
There is a lot of speculation and interest in the potential for wearables this year. Many have labeled this year (2014) the year of wearables (interestingly the same people made that claim about last year too…) and there are also rumours of a Google “Google now” themed smart watch as well as the highly rumoured Apple iWatch. However, I believe that Apple should not make an iWatch, though I’d still love to see an iWatch.
Watches are fashion items
The key difference between mobile phones, computers and these potential wearables is, wearables are fashion items. They are constantly on display and so need to have a fashionable element. The iPhone manages to do a pretty good job of being fashionable for a phone, but the vast amounts of cases show that Apple’s version of fashion isn’t everyone’s.
For smart watches to have mass success they need to have a greater element of fashion inherit within their design. Apple isn’t a fashion company.
Apple should have a focused product line
The other real danger with an iWatch is in starting a whole new category of product lines will dilute Apple’s attention and product quality. This isn’t just about the hardware but the OS as well. Could an iWatch run on modded form of iOS or will it need a whole new operating system? Either way it will require some modification from the standard iOS and take up valuable developer time.
Two alternative models
Despite these obstacles there are two slightly different alternatives which Apple could look at pursuing to create an iWatch that would help create a fashionable product while keeping their focus on their core product lines.
The carplay model
Apple’s approach to carplay shows an alternative model for other products. Instead of creating the device themselves they created an approved system for connecting and interfacing with iOS. Why couldn’t Apple do something with watch manufactures? Instead of needing to learn about the fashion issues they can simply outsource this side to watch makers with guidelines on the smart aspects build into the system.
The Nexus model
An alternative approach could be to partner with a watch brand like Google has with it’s Nexus line. In this case the product is from the partner company but Google guides it’s development. This would allow apple to keep their hand on the rudder of the design and insure that their vision was met and yet bring in the experience and insight from watch makers.