Apple Watch: When will it become a power tool for work?

The Apple Watch launch on March 9 will be about fashion, health and the next big thing. Rest assured that CIOs are pondering the enterprise implications.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor

Apple will further detail its Apple Watch and the launch plan for what the company hopes will be its next big thing. The Apple Watch will revolve around fashion, wellness and being a bridge to the iPhone.

One key question---beyond pricing, adoption and overall interest---is whether the Apple Watch can ultimately be a power tool for real work.

In the short run, it's unclear whether the Apple Watch---or any smartwatch can be a real business tool. Why? Smartwatches can't handle chores from other devices. That reality means that a smartwatch as a power user tool is a bit off.

Oppenheimer analyst Andrew Uerkwitz said in a research note:

The Watch today is not a power tool by itself. For example, "Handoff" function started with iOS 8 can only be initiated on the Watch--the Watch cannot handle activities generated by other devices. It means we cannot begin to dictate a voice memo on an iPhone and then continue on the Watch. Perhaps it is more appropriately to be positioned today as the "gateway" to iOS ecosystem. However, we believe in the long-term, when display and input challenges are overcome, the Watch will likely replace the smartphone as the primary mobile computing device.

That bet is a big one. Good luck predicting a timeline. However, enterprise players are already betting that wearables will matter. Salesforce is already focused on wearables and is expected to create an app for the Apple Watch. Salesforce could provide data nuggets, projections and other messages on the fly. Hard-core analytics, however, would have to wait. In addition, it's a safe bet that Apple partner IBM will be talking up enterprise apps for the Apple Watch in short order.

Apple Watch: First look at Apple's new wearable device (images)

Uerkwitz's bet on the Apple Watch for now revolves around Apple's ability to create a natural interface, create a fashion must-have and 34 combined model and sizes that'll appeal to multiple audiences.

In the future, Apple Watch will have to bridge real work functions. Here's the gap today:


What remains to be seen is whether there's some new function for the Apple Watch that would be a business killer app. I can't count out the Apple Watch as a business tool, but will argue that the enterprise hurdle rate will be higher than the iPhone and iPad faced. Then again, no one really saw the iPhone as an enterprise juggernaut either.

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