Apple Watch Will Pressure Google and Microsoft
By Jim Lundy
The march toward the April 24th shipment of the Apple Watch is on and with it, comes tons of speculation on whether the Apple Watch will be successful or not.
To me, there is no question that the Apple Watch will be a hit and this post speaks to some of those reasons. Additionally, due to our prediction that the Apple Watch will officially start the adoption phase of the wearable era, we feel that the launch of the Apple Watch will put significant pressure on Google, Microsoft, and others.
The Apple Watch Launch: A Replay of the iPad
The pending launch of the Apple Watch feels eerily similar to the iPad launch in 2010. The iPad launch marked the beginning of the tablet era. Both before and after the iPad announcement, there was significant skepticism about whether the iPad would be a success. Jump to today and there is the same speculation regarding the Apple Watch. That said, as Apple does its gradual unveiling of the apps that will work with the Apple Watch, more and more people are now saying they are going to buy one.
The Apple Watch, like other new innovations from Apple, focuses intensely on the use case—what should the device do and what are the experiences that will delight the user. This approach to design is what has separated Apple from others: Apple uses innovative design to mold and cultivate its mobile ecosystem to take advantage of the features and the third-party apps that access them (e.g., the Apple Developer Program).
For example, one of the things that struck us as innovative is the ability to send unique messages via tapping on the device, which will send those taps to the designated user you are communicating with.
Apple Watch Will Pressure Google
Google launched the Android Wear development platform four months before Apple announced the Apple Watch. Today, there are many Android Wear-based digital watches that were announced last year and last month at Mobile World Congress. However, the investment Apple makes in user interface and in innovative functionality will put pressure on Google and their partners to update Android Wear with more capabilities.
We expect Google to react quickly, as soon as Google I/O (June 2015) with updates. We also expect price drops for Android Wear-based watches. Have no fear: There is nothing wrong with an Android Wear-based watch. That said, the disruption we expect with the Apple Watch has to do with the new and innovative apps that will be part of the launch.
Apple Watch Will Pressure Microsoft
Today, Microsoft, which bought Nokia in September, 2013, offers the Microsoft Band, a fitness-focused device powered by Microsoft Health. There isn’t much else to say about wearables and Microsoft, as there is no other pending action from Microsoft in wearables until the Windows 10 “Redstone” release hits in 2016.
Part of the issue is timing. Microsoft has had to circle the wagons and focus on building a common OS—Windows 10 and with it, the promise of the universal app.
One of the things that people forget is that to have an Apple Watch, you need to have an iPhone nearby. This will reinforce the Apple ecosystem and it will put even more pressure on firms that sell smartphones to also offer a watch. Since most mobile phone manufacturers already offer an Android-based watch—this too puts more pressure on Microsoft to act sooner rather than later.
The Apple Watch and the New Wearable App Arms Race
The other pressure that the launch of the Apple Watch will create is the need to have a wearable app. In fact, we expect the Apple Watch to fuel a new arms race for wearable apps. Just as with the rollout of the iPad, executives and professionals will flock to digital watches, partly due to the new and innovative apps. Enterprises will be put on notice (by competitors) to have a wearable app or to get one into the market.
I’ll be talking about wearables and the new race for apps at our upcoming Aragon Mobile Breakfast Briefing in Boston on April 23rd.