There cannot be a product without a need. The need is the first essential aspect which has to be created or at least felt and then comes a slew of motivator factors including style quotient and fashion statements. It’s possible that a genuine but ill conceived need can be undermined by an overwhelming fashion statement although under-serving that need. This is exactly what happened with the smartwatch trial by tech companies against the behemoth Swiss watch market in 1999. The message of the need of an smartwatch couldn’t penetrate the ambience of the watch market hegemonized by Swiss fashion statements. Advancement of smartphone also played spoilsport against smartwatch. The need of smartwatch was ill conceived in a sense that the same could be effectively fulfilled by an smartphone. Hence the smartwatch took a beating from both sides; it was perceived neither as a need nor as a fashion statement.
More than a decade later what Pebble did is the first essential thing; it demonstrated the need of an smartwatch and that was very rightly embraced by the people. They came forward to support the Pebble kick-starter campaign. Hence the smartwatch market was re-created and several other companies re-entered the fray again with their smartwatches. However, most of them were focused on the need; it was natural of them as they were already beaten by the fashion giants.
However, the watch market beyond the usual time keeping is dominated by fashion. The fashion is so strong that they deserve a separate, focused, and highly decked up worldwide event “The Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show” every year. So, now you can guess; the other part of the smartwatch, the fashion was equally or even more important. The platform of smartwatch market was beckoning for addition of that glamour element into the smartwatches. As the smartwatch platform was readily available, it was the most opportune time for Apple to fill that gap for smartwatches to be glamorous and fashionable along with even higher level of fulfilment of the need as perceived by the people.
The Apple Watch is not just a catalyst for the smartwatch market; it’s a crusader for the established luxury watch market. Although they didn’t talk much about the Apple smartwatch at the last ‘Baselworld Watch Show’ in March 2015, the makers of luxury Swiss watches are really concerned about it. The Tag Heueris more open in recognizing the threat from Apple Watch, and forthcoming in making strategies with Inteland Googleto diffuse the tension. I will talk about the Tag Heuer story later, now focusing on what Apple Watch has done to galvanize the smartwatch industry and at the same time to keep itself ahead of the others in the watch industry. Just read its tag line, it doesn’t add the word ‘smart’ before ‘watch’, it’s an Apple Watch against all odds.
Yes, it’s a catalyst for other smartwatches to join the bandwagon. It makes sense for an army to follow a leader when it’s like a war between an smartwatch market and a luxury watch market. In last few months, we have started hearing about several smartwatches which were in hibernation. Some of them have good potential to come along in the leading lane. I will talk about them sometime later. Today is the time for the Apple Watch. It’s not possible to cover the whole of Apple Watch in one article, but let’s see some of its glimpses here.
The Apple watch has everything that a smartwatch should do, plus some more creative features, which Apple says are for better human care. The Watch is perfectly synchronized with the iPhone (communicating over Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) to check notifications including text messages, phone calls, and e-mails, and so on. When the watch is in a recognized Wi-Fi zone, and your iPhone is dead, the watch can perform your essential on-line functions like the iPhone. It can also be used to pay your bills with credit cards, just wave your wrist wearing this watch. The watch also has a microphone and a speaker. Apple’s digital assistant Siri can be used to dictate a message to be sent.
What is human in the watch? Well it continuously monitors your heart rate; it has several activity tracking features such as your walking time, sitting continuously, exercising etc. You have an option to set it up to remind you to get up from your chair after some time, walk around for a while, and come back. Things like that can make you more disciplined to maintain your health. It also has a separate app for complete workout for an active exercise schedule. There are many other useful pre-installed apps for various purposes.
An awesome feature is animation. You can animate your emotions through pictures of heart, face, hand, palm or finger movements and send it to the other watch. If the watch on the other side is also an Apple watch, then the live animation during its drawing can be also shared at the other end. You can also send your heartbeat along with an animated heart that can be felt by the other person through gentle taps on her wrist and the heart appearing on the screen.
On any incoming message, call or alarm, it gently taps on your wrist along with different kinds of low volume chimes with different types of notifications. It’s unlike a rude vibration felt on your wrist. You can also send the watch in quiet mode by pressing your palm against its screen. There are many other features that make the watch human friendly and more exotic. There are interesting watch faces such as solar, astronomy, chronology, and so on. Well, I am not making an Apple watch selling pitch here, so am not going into its laundry list of features; may be for some other time.
Coming back to the smartwatch market that been created by Apple. Now that an smartwatch has style as well as functions, if you have $500 to spend, do you think you will buy a mechanical luxury instead of a modern luxury like Apple watch that is intelligent? Well, mechanical luxury also has its value, but that will become more of an antique value rather than a modern luxury. There will be snobbish people who would still buy Swiss mechanical luxury, but that percentage will go down significantly.
I think Apple marketing has conducted a deep study of changing consumer behaviours and preferences, and done an excellent job coming up with such a piece. Today’s style quotient does not go by value such as gold or diamond studded in antiques, unless that is meant for a bride and a groom at the time of their marriage in countries like India. The style quotient has changed over time; today style has tech quotient embedded in it. That reminds me about an advertisement on TV sometime ago, in which a few teenage girls each having stylish smartphones were teasing a middle aged person holding a feature phone. The tech quotient is embedded in our lives in a big way today. The youth looks at style as well as intelligence in the things they use daily and they do not believe in hoarding something they don’t use.
Apple has a great field day today. In most probability it will prove success to Apple as well as other smartwatch makers who can work smartly to combine these two things – style and functions that were needed but no one could perceive them until today.
Pawan Kumar Fangaria
Founder & President at www.fangarias.com