What's the Use of an iWatch?

So Apple Inc. is rumored by Bloomberg to be working on a smart-watch for launch this year. If this actually happens, I have to ask what the target audience is and what value an iWatch would add beyond Apple's existing laptops, phones and tablets? After all, it's not 1946 anymore and none of us is Dick Tracy. The two-way wrist radios and tiny communicators that were the stuff of childhood comics and sci-fi fantasy have been surpassed by the capabilities of real-life smartphones. With this in mind, Karl Bode, Sarah Reedy and I tried to hash out what the point of an iWatch could be on Twitter earlier today (March 4). A smart watch would need to have some application beyond a smartphone to make it worthwhile, at least to me. That's not telling the time by the way, because who uses a watch for that anymore? I agree with Karl and Sarah that some of the functionality of an iWatch would likely be as a fitness and health monitor, probably one that will serve up your favorite tunes while you're at the gym too. I'm not sure how I feel about Apple knowing what your heart rate is and other personal metrics -- but, hey, this thing is only a rumor at the moment anyway. I suspect that location capabilities could also be a feature, using Siri as a voice-activated local search assistant on the phone. Layer in local offers and coupons and you've got a handy shopping guide on your arm. One other fascinating possibility occurs to me. Apple hasn't put a near-field communication (NFC) chip in any of its devices. NFC technology in devices can be used like a credit or debit card would be -- tapping on a sensor instead of swiping -- to replace cash and pay for goods and services. Could the special selling point of an iWatch be that it is your dedicated mobile wallet? I don't know for sure, but I do think that Apple will have to find some compelling reasons to sell yet another device in the iFamily. I'm sure that some will rush out and buy whatever Apple puts out. I'm just not sure whether a watch isn't too much of an anachronism at this point to really capture the popular imagination. — Dan Jones, Site Editor, Light Reading Mobile

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