'iWatch': It's all about the Apple ecosystem

'iWatch': It's all about the Apple ecosystem

Summary: An iWatch could help Apple cement iCloud services with its current iOS and OS X offerings, but it's more likely that any iWatch will be more of an iPod nano than an iPhone or iPad.

TOPICS: Apple, Mobility

Rumor that Apple has is to imminently release a television has been replaced—temporarily, at any rate—by speculation that the Cupertino, Calif.-based technology giant is to release a wrist-mounted computer dubbed the iWatch.

Where, exactly, would this latest in a long line of mythical Apple devices fit into the wider Apple ecosystem?

Both The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal have both thrown their weight behind this story, which elevates above the usual Apple-related gossip story. Hiowever, as is usual with Apple-related rumors, both outlets are light on details.

Speculation related to an Apple smartwatch was heightened last week when long-time Apple interface designer Bruce Tognazzini offered up some ideas as to what might be possible with an Apple smartwatch. In his vision, the iWatch had almost limitless capabilities, doing everything short of curing cancer and deflecting an incoming asteroid. If the iWatch ended up doing a quarter of what was listed, it would be Apple's most versatile product to date.

If Apple does indeed have a smartwatch in the pipeline, I believe that it will be a more modest device than that postulated by Tognazzini due to price constraints, issues relating to miniaturization, and battery life—even adding solar power to a device doesn't eliminate the power constraints that a product has to be designed around.

My take on the iWatch is a little more conservative than Tognazzini. I believe that if Apple does indeed come out with an iWatch, it will be about one thing—integration into the existing iOS and OS X ecosystem.

While shiny devices such as the iPhone 5, iPad 4, and iPad mini have been what's caught our attention—and grabbed headlines—over the past few months, integration with existing services has been at the heart of everything that Apple has done in recent quartertly release cycles.

Apple isn't coming out with new devices randomly; it is building a carefully-crafted ecosystem. This integration would take on a number of forms:

  • iCloud services integration: This one is a no-brainer. Extending services such as iMessage, Find My Friends, and Find My iPhone to a smartwatch would not only give the services a new platform to operate from, but also give a sales boost to the existing iOS lineup. The iWatch would become the ultimate accessory;

  • iOS integration: Who just called you? Where's your iPhone? What's the battery level on your iPad? Which apps need updating? Imagine being able to see all this from a device on your wrist;

  • OS X integration: Features such as authentication—perhaps via near-field communications (NFC), biometrics, or Bluetooth—and being able to control features such as scheduled backup and updates would handy if they were close to hand, say, on your wrist.

All that said, I do feel the need to inject some sanity into this debate. While it is easy to get carried away about a wristwatch that could count your laps in a pool, find you a coffee shop, and remotely wipe your lost iPhone, it's unlikely that the iWatch is going to be Apple's next iPhone or iPad, either in terms of sales or impact.

Why? Several reasons spring out at me.

  • The iWatch is not going to pull in the same level of revenue that the iPhone or iPad does;

  • The iWatch would be a companion device for existing iOS and OS X devices, not a new standalone device;

  • Wristwatch buyers are fickle—just look at the extensive line-up that companies such Casio, Rolex, and Omega have;

  • Since storage is unlikely to be an issue, unless Apple transforms the iWatch into some sort of wrist-mounted backup/storage device. Apple will likely find it difficult to squeeze higher revenues from a product by offering it at a variety of capacities;

  • There's a limit to what you can accomplish with a screen that can fit on your wrist.

I see any iWatch being more of an iPod nano as opposed to an iPhone or iPad.

Topics: Apple, Mobility

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  • "There's a limit to what you can accomplish with a screen..."

    Who says the screen has to do all that much? I see this watch as being principally Siri powered.
    • The screen is not what's wrong here.

      The iWatch is a solution to a problem nobody has. If this is all Tim Cook can bring out as a new product, Apple is doomed.
      • It's about the marketing

        The iphone is based entirely on concepts and products that existed in the past. All that was done was to make a larger screen, bigger icons, touch it, and make it look sexy. Good looks market themselves better than the Pied Piper's or PT Barnum's shtick...
  • Seriously?

    iDoubt it.
    • You never know...

      It could be possible...especially when you consider the way they changed the iPod Nano back to tall and skinny...this would leave room for the iWatch.

      Then imagine Apple putting NFC into the iWatch....that would be much more useful as a payment device than a smart phone...iDoubt it too, but then again you never know :)
  • Maybe

    It is possible as there are a few on the market already. If Apple has been good at anything over the last 10ish years it would be taking someone else's product and then "inventing it," or by noraml folks' words, "marketing it."

    So I could see this happen sooner than later.
  • Or maybe it could have much more rather than the less you speculate

    Integrate a bluetooth/close communication tech and use a 1/2 eye glass for a display, include a small camera to pickup your surroundings and your command and control movement, VIA eye, blinking and hand. Virtually reality.

    Walla the next generation of smart phone devices.

    this may be what they have in mind, I know google does
    • Walla?

      What is Walla?
      • Walla

        "Walla" is 1/2 of a small town in SE Washington state.
        • Orits

          LOL @ SbySW

          Or it's how to pronouce voila if you learned via Hooked on Phonics (huked on foniks).
    • "tech" as in "technician" or "technology"?

      I love how people have more and more difficulty using multisyllable words... :)
  • Apple need more 'gadgets' to fool its iSheeps

    ...otherwise how will they maintain the rip-off profits....
    • Contrary to popular opinion

      people who buy Apple products do so willingly and consciously, because these products and their ecosystem convergence suit their needs and/or tastes.

      If these products are not for you, more power to you. But please leave what motivates other people choose to do with their money out of your assumptions. As with all human decisions, those choices are individual, complex, and, well, not really for any of the rest of us to worry about.

      In my own case, I use a Mac and a PC at home, as each bring something to the table for music production and software development that the other does not have. These are licit reasons that work for me... and might not for the next person.
    • Bitter

      Wow you are really bitter about this aren't you?
    • Right, right

      So what distracts you Microsoft sheep from protesting the high prices of the Microsoft Surface Pro?
      • As Compared To What?

        $929 for a 128 GB iPad? LOL!
        • Or, How About?

          $800 to upgrade an MBA to 512GB? LOL! LOL!
          • What? No Surface 512GB? LOL!! LOL!!

            Arm A. Geddon
        • That price is Wi‑Fi + Cellular.

          Wi-Fi only is $799.00. With all the Wi-Fi Hot Spots around; how many do you think will buy Wi‑Fi + Cellular?

          The Surface Pro is $999.99 so what's your point?
          Arm A. Geddon
          • Since anyone with a smartphone can share their mobile data connection

            Up to 8 devices on my 4G Win 8 phone, for example. Why would anyone buy cellular if they have a smartphone? I don't need two SIMS and two bills.