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Is This It? Initial Reactions to the Apple Watch

At Apple’s well-publicized launch event yesterday, CEO Tim Cook stood on stage after a detailed discussion of his company’s much-anticipated refresh of the iPhone line. Behind him, a simple banner read: “One more thing…” Even before he uttered a single word of transition, the audience went wild. Everyone knew: the Apple Watch was here.

The tech community has been buzzing ever since, already posting highlights of the much-rumored Apple Watch. Yet as many of us get caught in the annual Apple hype machine now running in full gear, we shouldn’t forget to ask some important questions.

Such as: Do we need an Apple Watch now?

Complementing vs. Replicating

What's in a watch, really? Source: https://twitter.com/44/status/509409079198900224
What’s in a watch, really?
Source: https://twitter.com/44/status/509409079198900224

About a week ago, The Verge’s Vlad Savov wrote a short, yet compelling piece titled, “Stop trying to sell me wrist-worn smartphones.” In it, he characterizes pre-Apple Watch smartwatches as bulky mini-phones with clunky user interfaces, all trying to replicate the smartphone experience on one’s wrist.

Much of the tech press as of late have fully embraced the smartwatch, hailing it as the future of interactive mobile technology.

Yet, many consumers (this author included) seem to share Savov’s sentiment: a smartwatch is great, but only if it provides customers with a unique experience.

Smartwatches, however they evolve as a product category, should extend and complement our phones, not copy them.

The Apple Watch

Enter the Apple Watch. I would argue that even with its potential flaws, the Apple Watch is the closest realization to a complementary smartwatch experience yet. Apple is well known for jumping into emerging product categories, then revolutionizing the market with their forward-thinking, ambitious releases.

I have no doubt that a loyal customer base and superior supply chain will drive the Apple Watch towards success. And, that is for the better! The Apple Watch is (yet again) a beautiful piece of industrial design. Plus, it includes features–such as Apple Pay and Sport–that are well suited to integrate with a minimalist, mobile wrist experience.

Yet Apple, like so many other smartwatch manufacturers, has also opted to include other features (such as Messages capability) that merely simplify and replicate the iPhone experience. Tim Cook’s Apple is trying to do it all.

What’s Next?

Then & Now. Image via dailyspectator.net.
Then & Now.
Source: http://dailyspectator.net/wp-content/uploads/2011/09/One-more-thing.jpg

We will all have to hold our breath until early 2015 to see how Apple’s next big consumer product fares. But until then, we can only guess regarding the specifics of the user experience.

It could prove clunky and overly ambitious, much like the original iPhone and many other ambitious industry “firsts.” Or, the Apple Watch could be the first truly successful foray into this new product category. Only time will tell.

Until then, I’ll leave it to my phone to handle all my tech-enabled needs.

Excited about the new Apple Watch, or smartwatches in general? Let us know in the comments below!

Billy Ceskavich

Billy is an Engagement Fellow and Masters candidate in the iSchool's Information Management program. He's an avid fan of consumer technology and the startup space, having worked in the industry both in Syracuse and Silicon Valley. He's active on Twitter (@ceskavich) or can be contacted directly via email (bceskavich@gmail.com).

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