#iWatch

seth-ze asked:

Hi MG. What's your take on the long lead time for Apple Watch availability? Can't understand Cook's logic here.

I think there are a few factors that could be at play here. Perhaps most likely is that Apple simply did not want the device to leak ahead of time. Had they waited until it was closer to launch, there would have undoubtedly been supply chain leaks out of Asia (and possibly even regulatory filing leaks).

These leaks are obviously now beyond rampant with regard to the iPhone, as we seem to know everything about these devices before Apple announces them. I imagine they care less about leaks in this case simply because the product line isn’t new and they care most about launching the iPhones in a quick and orderly fashion after the announcement. 

Remember that when Apple first unveiled the iPhone in 2007, they did so six months before it was actually available — even more lead time than we’re likely to get here with the Apple Watch. That also ensured the device was at least somewhat of a surprise.

Unlike with the iPhone, Apple will be allowing for third-party applications from day one with the Apple Watch. So this lead time also gives developers some time to think, plan, and build some apps for when the device does launch.

Another idea being thrown around is that Apple had already promised to announce a new product line this year, so while the Apple Watch may not ship until next year, they wanted to get it out there now to keep their word. I’d put a lot less stock in this notion. Would Wall Street be disappointed if Apple didn’t announce a new product this year? Undoubtedly. But if Apple is really in the business of pleasing Wall Street and not their customers, I’d actually believe they’re in trouble.

Also, in the long run, who really cares when Apple announces the new product? The key is that it’s coming, whether the pay off is now or in six months or in a year. The only thing that will ultimately matter is if the thing is any good. And I suspect Apple took their time making sure it was good.

I think the first two ideas are far more likely.

Nick Wingfield on the naming of the Apple Watch versus iWatch:

Apple began using the “i” prefix on its product names back in 1998, when Mr. Jobs, who only recently had returned to the company, used it on the iMac, the candy-colored computer that helped reinvigorate the company’s portfolio of products. At an event where he showed off the computer to a boisterous crowd, Mr. Jobs said that the “i” in iMac stood for a lot of things, including Internet, individual, instruct, inform and inspire.

The move away from “i” was long past due (just as it would be for anything formulated 16 years ago), but I’m honestly not sure how I feel about “Apple Watch”. Sure, we’ve grown used to “Apple TV” but it’s still a bit too generic for my tastes in naming. I’d prefer something that is unmistakeable. While dated, the “iStuff” naming convention was unmistakable.

On Apple’s own website navigation, they just denote the Apple Watch as “Watch”. That’s confusing. I keep thinking it’s where the live stream of yesterday’s event is hosted.

This is a new category. It’s a hell of a lot more than a watch. I find the name at best lazy, at worst boring. The device itself looks great — worthy of a more inventive name.

Regardless, fare thee well, “i”.

John Gruber on the fine-we’ll-call-it-iWatch-for-now:

And whatever it is, I think it will be controversial. Perhaps it will be expensive. Perhaps it will have far, far fewer features than do Android Wear devices. Perhaps it will appear under-powered at first.

But there will be something, or several somethings, that will cause it to be misunderstood by those who are only able to frame new creations in the context of what came before them. Apple’s watch won’t fit in an existing mold. It won’t be a phone on your wrist. It won’t be a watch as we know it. We already have excellent phones. We already have excellent watches. For the Apple watch to be worth creating, it must be excellent at something else.

And people will scoff. And in hindsight, they’ll probably look foolish.

I’ve long made it clear that I believe the “watch” moniker is misleading at best. What ever this thing is, it will be no more a watch than the iPhone is a phone. And again, that will lead people to scoff because they won’t understand.

"That is the most expensive phone in the world! And it doesn’t appeal to business customers because it doesn’t have a keyboard."

Scoffing

I’ve always been fascinated by scoffing. It’s such a weird human reaction. It’s wanting to say something is stupid without directly saying it. Or sometimes without saying anything at all. The key is contempt. You simply cannot be bothered to even find the fucks to give.

We see this a lot in the tech world. There’s a lot of “that’ll never work” scoffs simply because something has been tried and failed in the past. Never mind the fact that nearly everything in the history of humanity was tried and failed before it eventually worked.

And then there’s competitor scoffing. Everyone knows the infamous Ballmer iPhone scoff. What makes it so bad isn’t just the derision, it’s what we can see with the benefit of hindsight. Ballmer is staring point blank at the device that will eventually eat his lunch and is faced with a choice:

  • He could say, “wow, we have to work harder.”
  • He could scoff.

He chose… poorly.

I find myself thinking of this type of scoffing on the eve of the “iWatch.” I’ve had a lot of conversations about the mythical device over the past several months and the unifying thread across most of the conversations has been scoffing.

It’s not necessarily that people don’t think Apple will make a nice wearable, it’s more that they’re sure it will be a meager, maybe even gimmicky product. In other words, like most of the wearables we’ve seen thus far. Not a game changer.

And yet, over the past several days, news has been trickling out that this device may be much more ambitious than just a thing on your wrist that tells time and maybe allows you to see an SMS or two. What if this device is not only the future of fitness, but the future of health monitoring, the future of payments, and maybe even the future of your living room to boot?

Maybe it won’t reach that potential. Maybe it won’t reach even half or a quarter of that potential. But it still seems silly to scoff at the device.

Nothing works until it does.

(Written on my iPhone)

Lots of good thoughts by James Gill. I like this one in particular:

In Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, the man himself proclaimed “I’ve finally cracked it” on referring to interacting with an Apple designed TV. We’re several years on and there’s still no sign of an Apple TV set, or a change in the way we all interact with our media on a big screen. When thinking about the possible uses of an iWatch, and the number of sensors and trackers it would contain, it made me realise — what if the iWatch could effectively be a Wii style controller that’s always strapped to your wrist, without the need for the controller part itself? Could you feasibly control a TV interface with your iWatch, simply waving at the screen with gestures to control your movement through the UI? What’s more, could the idea of everyone having their own iWatch enable seamless interaction and on screen personalisation without any confusion over who has which remote control?

I recently happened to buy a new LG television which comes with both a regular remote but also a Wiimote-like remote. The latter is amazing. Old school remotes are garbage. This new remote is a joy to use.

It feels like the right way to manipulate television. So much so that I don’t think this suggestion is crazy at all. We may not hear anything about it tomorrow, but perhaps Apple will have a “one more thing” up its sleeve in a few months — quite literally.

Ben Basche:

It also dawned on me what the point of the iWatch might actually be. If the iPhone 6 is technically the “first” iDevice with NFC, might iWatch be the cheaper NFC wallet option during the transition to NFC in the iPhone install base? Apple’s crude attempt at backwards compatibility? Perhaps with an old iPhone paired to an iWatch, you too can lose the plastic for iWallet.

Perhaps the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that the “iWatch” was just some digital watch…

Yuichiro Kanematsu on the forthcoming iWatch:

Apple appears confident of the new product. According to a parts manufacturer, it plans monthly commercial output of about 3-5 million units, which exceeds the total global sales of watch-like devices last year.

Both Nikkei and Recode believe this device is coming this October.

Also:

Apple is also in partnership with Nike. According to sources familiar with the matter, the two companies have likely agreed to integrate their services in the future. The sports equipment maker is expected to eventually pull out of the device business to concentrate on services.

Thought so. The other shoe, has indeed dropped.

Ben Thompson:

Interestingly, both Apple and Nike have markedly similar business models: as various pundit never tire of telling us, Apple is selling a commodity and is doomed to inevitable margin pressure and/or massive loss of share in the face of good-enough cheap Android. For better or worse we in tech are stuck with these folks, because who knows what they would make of a company like Nike, selling pieces of leather and bits of fabric. Talk about a commodity! And yet, there is Nike, sporting a ~45% gross margin in an industry that averages 33%. Clearly they are more than just an apparel maker.

Lost in the story of the demise of the FuelBand is just how similar Nike and Apple are in many respects. Apple’s “iWatch” may not be the reason Nike is killing off the FuelBand, but both companies will be better off as a result of a partnership in this space — as will consumers.

Nick Statt:

Nike is gearing up to shutter its wearable-hardware efforts, and the sportswear company this week fired the majority of the team responsible for the development of its FuelBand fitness tracker, a person familiar with the matter told CNET.

Yikes. Though the reality is that this seemed inevitable as something Apple this way comes:

As Apple enters the fray, Nike has a potential partner. Apple CEO Tim Cook, who was seen wearing a FuelBand at the company’s launch of the iPad mini in October of 2012, sits on Nike’s board, and has for the last nine years. That relationship has been fruitful over the years, helping Nike enter the wearable market as early as 2006, with the Nike+iPod shoe sensor package, with a strong brand partner.

I’ve been saying this for a while: Tim Cook remaining on Nike’s board while Apple readies its own health/fitness-focused device was awkward at best. Unless Nike decided to exit that business and instead partner with Apple on such a device…

(As an aside, Secret strikes first again on this news.)

Update: Nike has issued a fairly standard non-denial, denial. They’re admitting to the layoffs, but dismissing the notion that the FuelBand is being killed off. To which I say, as always with these types of statements: yet.

(Of course they’re not going to admit to killing the FuelBand right now, there is still product on the shelves — not to mention new color variations, long in the pipeline, about to launch. They could either kill the product and sell none of those or postpone that announcement and sell at least some of those. No-brainer.)

Jason Snell:

In other words, in four years the wearables market might grow to be one-tenth the size of today’s smartphone market—in units shipped. Presumably the average selling price of wearable items will be a fraction of that of smartphones, meaning the dollar value of the wearables market is even more minuscule compared to the smartphone market.

All of which means that wearables, while dramatic and exciting and with huge potential to change people’s lives, are never going to rival smartphones in terms of market size. Same goes for smart TV boxes. These are interesting, fun areas of technological change. But the smartphone—that boring old Internet-connected 64-bit supercomputer in your pocket that just keeps improving year after year—is going to be the big dog in the tech world for years to come. Apple’s future success or failure will be dependent on the iPhone, and to a lesser extent the iPad, not on a smartwatch.

That’s exactly right. I’ve been saying this for a while: there is no industry, save maybe the oil business, that could yield the type of profits Apple is used to with the iPhone. And that points to a lot of disappointment in the eyes of Wall Street no matter what comes — unless Apple buys Exxon.