Why Apple Will Never Do a Real iWatch

Concept for an Apple-made wristwatch

This Apple wristwatch doesn't exist -- and never will.

Ever since Apple CEO Steve Jobs casually mentioned the idea that Apple’s new iPod nano could be used as a wristwatch, well, I’ve wanted one. And so have a lot of people. A nano wristwatch aftermarket has quickly emerged to satisfy demand. But what about Apple?

Cnet’s Gordon Haff wrote a blog post this morning called “Why Apple will do a real iWatch” in which he predicts that Apple will get into the wristwatch business.

I say they won’t, and I’ll tell you why. But first let’s look at Haff’s reasoning.

In a nutshell, Haff points out that because the nano is already usable as a wristwatch, Apple wouldn’t need to do all that much to make a true wristwatch. All the company would have to do is redesign for elegance, and add a few features like Bluetooth and GPS.

He concludes that “it seems a natural path for Apple to follow as the technology allows — especially in a spot within its product line where Apple has been especially open to stylistic reinvention.”

Haff’s reasoning might apply to just about any other company, but not Apple.

Most companies spend enormous resources trying to figure out what people want in the market. When they find a potential hit, they go for it.

Apple, on the other hand, doesn’t troll the consumer electronics landscape looking for opportunities for additional revenue. That’s never how they choose to enter new markets.

Apple is unique in the industry in that it has three criteria for entering an entirely new market:

1. There are glaring problems or inadequacies among all major players in the market that can be solved by Apple’s core competency of elegant design.

2. The new market area enables Apple to control a new platform that supports an ecosystem of content, such as media or apps.

3. Both the potential market and the marketplace for content must be huge, mainstream and central to how most people live.

The iWatch idea largely fails all three criteria.

The wristwatch market is overflowing with extreme elegance. People with high standards for elegant design can satisfy their demand by choosing from among thousands of available wristwatches. Sure, there are a lot of clunky watches out there. But there really aren’t a whole lot of people walking around frustrated by their wristwatches.

Apple executives say in promotional videos that they design products that they themselves would want to use. And I believe this is true. Apple designers are probably very happy with the wristwatches they currently wear, or they’re happy not wearing one at all. Contrast this to how they probably felt about using cell phones or TVs five years ago.

Yes, the iWatch could be a platform that supports app and media content. But the ecosystem of content would never be large enough to divert Apple attention away from the truly massive ones they’re tackling elsewhere: music, TV, movies, iOS apps, books, magazines and newspapers. Sure, Apple could probably squeeze the iOS onto the watch, and enable it to run iPhone apps. But that would require a re-tooling of developer tools for Apple, and the porting of existing apps to the smaller screen for developers. And I don’t think that’s a worthwhile effort for Apple. The incremental additional apps would probably never justify the diversion of resources for Apple.

Apple has launched its incredible multi-touch iPod nano, which can be used as a wristwatch. Apple will be happy to allow hundreds of companies to transform the nano into a wristwatch with straps, cases and other accessories. But that’s as close as Apple will ever get to entering the wristwatch market.

(Image source)

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  • Bitbandit

    I think this is a true indication of how technology is changing much faster then most people.  I think if Apple adds 3 new features 1 - Bluetooth, 2 – GPS, and 3 - Bluetooth enable iPhone companion app to the future upgrade of the iPod nano the iWatch will be a reality.  These changes would be a very small investment for the potential return on a product that they currently develop.  Simply by making a few changes to a existing product could potentially increase the demand for the product 100 fold.   In the tradition of Apples current business mode, Apple would only needs to develop the essential component to the iWatch, which is the iPod nano and let the existing watch manufactures add the elegance through a large verity of watch band accessories and software companies through custom watch faces and features.  The possibilities are endless.  This is in perfect alignment with Apple’s current business model and level on innovation seen from Apple.  I have an iPhone and can’t justify a need for a nano, but as a watch and iPhone companion I would almost half to have one. The iWatch concept will challenge ones current perception of just what is a watch, something that does more then just keep time.

  • vivek_paliwal

    When a new piece of technology is due to come out immanently, it creates
    a great sense of excitement and anticipation. At the moment, that focus is on
    Apple, due to the pending release of the new  iphone
    5
    .on october its about to
    release so cross your fingers and it will have the expected features what we
    always demand from the Apple Inc..

     

  • Sepiree

    I don’t agree with you on all what you just said. For one, true apple makes products or apps in which they can advance in and most executives put thought into products they also would like to use..but that isn’t the major case, looking at the iPod nano right now you can’t tell me that’s an object that serious media people would like to have for one it doesn’t support videos only music. It’s mainly about what the public would want to see, I would like to buy the iwatch if it came out, because of it’s unique design and it’s features. Apple can take advantage of it’s resources here but I think that they just can’t do anything further than the software and design. In terms of media content lime apps and so forth, Apple can use this to the fullest with their innovation and originality not just small features like wi-fi calling and GPS but maybe background apps or speaking apps that tell time from the home screen with just one touch. Apple is really good in reinvention and if they put their time into this their outcome can be inevitable, with their concept alone they attracted attention from the mass media most were even trying to place orders for it. And in terms of developers, they might as well base the format of apps the same as the ipod nano and if theirs also a mass difference between the iPod nano and the iwatch it won’t make people think that their gonna get the same thing as the iPod nano so mor Market. Apple knows how to make it work and I don’t think resources are the greatest defects maybe in finding materials that match the comfort of your wrist.. Please reply me with you ideas

  • Sepiree

    Also since it’s bluetooth an would make a stupid hassle connecting earphones your hans they can also make Bluetooth enabled headphones with high sound quality and modify them to the fullest apple can really do good on revenue seeing as how people mostly spend 100′s on the beats by Dr. Dre..for example me my friend has it and its actually true that their so clear you could actually hear the breath of the person on the mic.. Amazing noise cancellers and comfortable

  • Bitbandit

    Sepiree  I guess not everyone understand the purpose of comments in a blog.  My comment was in response to and in the context of the original premise “Why Apple Will Never Do A Real IWatch”  I was supporting the affirmative of this premise.  The premise had nothing to do with weather the iPod nano a serious media device or not or if in it’s current form it would make a decent watch.  Simply put my argument suggest that an iWatch could exist and it would take very little effort on Apple’s part to create a one considering that many has adaped the iPod nano to serve this purpose which is a indicator that there is a potential market for the product. In addition that they would have a number of options one being continue to evolve the iPod nano platform or create something new all together.  The iPod nano form factor can be adapted to support any software.  The only limitations that I see are one battery life and marketing.  Most consumer still don’t quite understand the dynamic multi-faceted nature of technology.  In other word how would you market the thing as a watch or media player.  Case n point my argument is in support of a watch and your response is in reference to the features of a media player.

  • Sepiree

    i think you misunderstood my direction. yes, I emphazied on media and the impotance of it because of how they might wish to manipulate the market but i did not centre around it. I agree with your ideas and I think you should work at apple, I was not opposing to your comment rather I was just  giving an input of my ideas. Am sorry if it was difficult for you to understand my intention.

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Mike ElganMike Elgan writes about technology and culture for a wide variety of publications. Follow Mike on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

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