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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mt330404 3/6/2013 | 6:54:58 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? I'm surprised no one has raised the topic of industrial/manufacturing/BPM applications for an iWatch. The problem is thinking of it as a watch limits the imagination to its potential capabilities. I could see an iWatch being very important to businesses in a number of ways beyond the obvious health/fitness. Especially as "big data" creeps into every part of our daily lives, so will the iWatch-- both in personal life AND business!
Phil Harvey 3/6/2013 | 5:07:59 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? I think you all are overthinking it with NFC and all that stuff.

Just make me a Skagen-like watch that (1) tells time and (2) gives me a way to see if I have important vmails & emails waiting for me. Also, I want to tap it and see what my next appointment is. (Not where, mind you, I'll use my phone for mapping and all that.)

And I want it to cost less than $200 (using Skagen as the standard again).
bobmachin 3/6/2013 | 7:55:16 AM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? didn't they already do this? Seriously, I think it'll work. Just as an iPhone offers a subset of what you can do on an iPad or MacBook, a wrist device would offer a slimmed down set of functions good enough for a lot of purposes - maybe just music, communications and NFC for payments. Paired with a bluetooth headset, for a lot of people, on a lot of trips out - e.g. to the legendary gym that we all go to - that would be fine...

nbattson 3/5/2013 | 8:42:17 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? IF they really do one, I would go with the Nike Fuelband as the main starting target market.
The expansion strategy could be to expand into the rapidly growing healthcare / home health monitoring market. There is a lot of money to be had in that expanding area, especially as healthcare costs rise and there is great pressure on cost cutting.
mbeattie617 3/5/2013 | 6:29:13 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? I'm holding out for the decoder ring
Rush21120 3/5/2013 | 5:42:15 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? iDon'tKnow
DanJones 3/5/2013 | 5:20:36 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? I see battery life as being the real hang-up for these smaller devices from a user perspective. You don't need your watch or glasses blinking out half way through the day.
chuckj 3/5/2013 | 5:05:06 PM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? Mobile revolution will have officially jumped the shark when the Google Glass and iWatch come out. -á
DanJones 3/5/2013 | 11:50:18 AM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? Some are predicting that smartwatches and the like herald the death of the cellphone. Seems way premature to me...

chumpchange charlie 3/5/2013 | 3:03:24 AM
re: What's the Use of an iWatch? If this iWatch is in fact something that Apple is considering, then they have been watching the early succes of Pebble on Kick-starter.

It could become a very interesting "hands-free" assistant for you. Know what's happening without constantly manhandling that phone of yours. Your better half may love you for it.
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