I participated on April the 17th to a Business Breakfast organized by UserAdgents on the theme « SmartWatches: time to market ? ».
Two special guests from Forrester, the research company, and Accor, the hotel operator, shared few data concerning the wearables’ market and the vision of companies preparing for the Apple Watch launch and, more broadly, pursuing their digital transformation.
But the main part of the presentation was dedicated to give a feedback concerning the Apple Watch and the rumbling it is causing to this market. I will not talk about the Apple Watch features and technology, you can find more than I can say on the net. The idea is to discuss the strategic views that were shared during the presentation.
The ship is steering for Fashion and Health
According to UserAdgents, Apple is moving its brand to a new direction: Fashion and luxury. The experience around the Apple Watch when you enter the Apple Store focuses on your personal style and the three product lines (the Sport line which case is in aluminium, the Collection one in steel and the Edition one with a gold case ) are made to fit your taste and material preferences rather than technological features. We will all recognize the Angela Ahrendts touch … But what about the watch life cycle ? If you are willing to change your iPhone every 2 or 3 years, which may cost you in average between $200 and $500 (depending on the part your telecom operator is willing to sponsor and the plan you subscribe for), how much are you willing to pay for the latest watch edition knowing you have already paid $300, or may be more than $1,000 for the Collection featuring a stainless steel case and bracelet ?
The second thing worth saying is the way Apple is making the market of healthcare explode. With its heart rate sensor, Apple is going to build the biggest Health Big Data, which may revolutionize the industry and the way people will look at their health. Their later announcement of agreement with IBM to make analytics in the health area was to say that Apple’s next step is to save lives. Traditional chinese doctors could say a lot about your health by just taking your wrist in their hands and sensing your heart rate. Apple aims to do the same, but with modern technologies and something more appealing to wear.
Applications need relevance and context
UserAdgents raised the fact that applications that will identify the « Gold information » with relevance in data and time (matching with the end-user key micro moments) will win the battle among all the new apps that will emerge for the Apple Watch. The Apple Watch is not made to navigate in apps or on the web, it is an iPhone extension, with the purpose of bringing to you the ONE information you need, and to notify you when something that interest you happens. The stake is not UX anymore, but the interaction mechanisms the app can offer an end-user. It should bring « sense », « service » and « context ». BMWi built an app that gives you one data: the level of your car battery charging level when you get near to your electric vehicle, which is much convenient if you are having a long journey ahead.
Forrester said, according to a survey, 29% of french smartphone users are willing to abandon looking for their smartphone each time they need it. A colleague of mine said that the Apple Watch will have more success among the feminine segment. This is mostly due to the fact that women are always looking inside their bags for something that looks just to be in the bottom of it (I can testify this is the case, and sometimes I even get worried I lost my iPhone somewhere). You add this to the fashion-like branding, QED …
In conclusion, by unifying innovation and fashion, the Apple watch is seen as the natural « cleaner » of the wearables market, especially the connected bracelets. However, questions arise concerning the over-solicitation and overexposure dangers. Imagine you get notified each time you are getting an email or a tweet. As for the iPhone, the success of the Apple Watch will be driven by the diversity of apps and their ability to bring this Gold information, to be worth replacing a traditional watch. For my part, I think that piloting with Siri is the key value of the watch since you can benefit from the Apple Watch proximity to interact with your ecosystem, among which your Homekit devices. The image behind the puzzle is taking shape …
PS – If you are interested in the whole presentation of UserAdgents, here is the link to SlideShare: http://bit.ly/1b3qmdV (for french readers)