The Apple iWatch story has given an array of bloggers a bit of cheer in the run up to the New Year, hasn’t it? The millions of page impressions will have kept a few churnalists and six-pence-a-post-experts in mince pies, no doubt.
But has the concept of wearable computing and Apple got legs? Yes.
Well, we know this. You’d have to have a technology heart made of stone to not be turned on by the concept of inching your wrist to the right slightly to check your email. More than that, Kickstarter has proved the fiscal reality: People will pay for this stuff.
Which must have had the upper echelons of Apple smiling with relief.
Just where do they go next? Even though Apple feels very much like the most profitable company in the history of the known universe, that is not reflected in their stock price. Nor is it reflected in the reports from the anal-ists who are now floundering rather dramatically. I remember speaking to one chap from one very well regarded firm just a month ago. He was pointing out that they reckoned Apple was “out of ideas” after the iPad Mini.
A ridiculous proposition. But it seems to be one that’s doing the rounds. If your Apple worldview is based on iPod-iPhone-iPad, then yeah. There’s a heck of a lot more for them to do.
Wearable computing is a good way ahead. Indeed it’s incredibly safe.
The monumental challenge Apple face is that they’re now invested. They can’t change easily. Billions and billions of dollars of profits, revenues and share valuations now rest on Tim Cook et al making the right call. Serious people seriously care about what Apple does. Serious folk will go flipping crazy if Apple screw stuff up. There is no Jobs halo effect.
So get it right Apple.
The recent Maps debacle highlights just what happens when executive attention is focused on other areas: Clearly nobody noticed what an absolute dud they’d delivered until it was too late to change.
So the company needs a winner. A new winner.
They can’t change the basic iPhone beyond prettying it up a bit more for the next generation, stick in a few more pieces of RAM, etc. It’s just too risky now. They cannot afford to screw things up and have a consumer backlash.
iOS is already looking increasingly dated. For years I’ve been banging on about the “Fisher Price” iPhone with, I think, merit. However the simplistic nature of iPhone is what’s made it such a success. I still enjoy using the interface. I have to admit that, yes, I do delight in the simplicity of the Fisher Price iPhone now and again.
The market is moving on, though. And getting the incremental upgrade path right is going to seriously tax the folk at Apple.
So wearable computing would give them a few more years of stellar returns. Easy returns. As many have pointed out, the fact some folk actually wear the Apple iPod Nanos as wristwatches demonstrates the validity of the concept.
The stage is set for a wearable revolution. Apple is beautifully positioned for it, too. The app store, the ecosystem, the volume, the attention of the influencers. It’s possible to argue that Apple only has to announce “iWear” and before you know it, they’ll have created yet another $10 billion-in-a-half-year division.