Apple Watch: One year on, and it's still looking for a killer feature

A year since its release, the Apple Watch continues to give other players in the smartwatch arena a hammering. But it's also still looking for a killer feature.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor

The Apple Watch is crucial to Apple. It's the first new class of product released since Tim Cook took the helm of the company, and it comes at a time when sales of the iPhone are expected to soften, and the iPad is in a nosedive.

A year on from launch, and officially Apple is keeping quiet as to sales. Unofficially, it's estimated that Apple has sold some 12 million units, which means it's generated some $6 billion in revenue.

Not bad, but a drop in the ocean next to the iPhone.

There have also been casualties in the smartwatch space, quite possibly as a result of Apple's entry into the space. Last month Pebble, one of the pioneering players in the market, laid off 25 percent of its workforce.

Enough with looking into the past. What does the future have to offer?

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Well, we're still running on version one Apple Watch hardware - updated hardware isn't expected to launch until the second half of this year - so when the Apple Watch 2 lands that will undoubtedly give sales a boost. In the meantime, Apple is making the transition to native apps for the Apple Watch that don't rely on the iPhone, which will be something welcomed by developers and users alike.

We're also still waiting for a killer app. Right now there's nothing that the Apple Watch can do that an iPhone can't also do, and since you need an iPhone within arm's reach in order for the Apple Watch to work, well, it's hard for some to justify spending the money on an Apple Watch. The switch to native apps will undoubtedly help things, but it's again hard to see what there is for the Apple Watch to do that the iPhone can't do.

Then there's the enterprise question? Is there a place for Apple Watch in business? Right now, it doesn't seem like there is, but as new features are added, and the hardware gets upgraded, this might change.

Another problem the Apple Watch has is an identity crisis. In a nutshell, it's hard to explain concisely what the Apple Watch does. Apple is usually good at storytelling, and building a narrative around, but with the Apple Watch is feels more like a case of "here's a thing we made, buy it."

Even I have a hard time explaining what the Apple Watch does.

I have mixed feelings about the Apple Watch. Sure, it's a product that does exactly what it says it does on the tin, and it does that well. Problem is, it doesn't do anything that I can't already do with my iPhone. It's a great gadget, but that's pretty much it, and that feels odd for an Apple product. It feels like a gadget released by any tech firm that just wants in on a market. To me it feels like the Apple Watch was released maybe a year too soon, and that it was rushed out more to put the brakes on the competition than it was as a fully integrated Apple product.

Then again, $6 billion in revenue is $6 billion in revenue.

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