“Apple builds great products that enrich people’s lives.” – Tim Cook
Continuity is the idea that from Mac to iPhone to iPad to Apple TV to Apple Watch; Whether connecting from Home to Health to Car to the Enterprise, there is a unity of experience that is contiguous; it flows.
In the Apple universe, someday soon, when driving in your car, CarPlay will kick in. Your Key Fob that unlocks your door, starts your car, syncs your music, sets temperature and aligns seating preferences will be in your Apple Watch.
When you walk into your living room, HomeKit will recognize your watch and unlock doors, set temperature controls, lighting and turn on the tv for you.
When you go for a brisk walk, pursue an ordinary day, or visit the doctor, HealthKit will kick in.
It will make you fitter, smarter about your health, and allowing primary caregivers and new forms of health service providers to have access to the information they need.
That way, they can take better care of you.
When out on an errand, and want to stop at Starbucks, Walgreens or Subway, Apple Pay is a touch away.
This is just logical, and the ultimate payoff of the next wave; namely, the notion that our myriad of devices and device-aware services get embedded to the point of invisibility. They just work all of the time.
Does this Watch Tick?
Let me begin by saying that I am deeply conflicted about Apple Watch.
There is a large part of me that looks at what Apple is doing in terms of creating a new kind of product and a new platform with a thriving ecosystem that supports it, and just marvels.
Who else could credibly pull this off but Apple?
The sheer artistry in what they created. The watches are unquestionably beautiful. Apple had to expand its understanding of new kinds of metallurgy, buckles, and sapphires, in the same way that they once had to figure out glass, screen and other fabrication technologies.
The addition of haptic response to touch based interaction opens up new forms of “reach out and touch someone” based communications and experiences, which I can see being great and tingly.
The basic structure of the Digital Crown is very well thought out, and magical in its simplicity and elegance.
From Faces and Glances to Siri, Quick Boards, Notifications and WatchKit apps, there is a grammar that is visible, coherent and which appears logical to the form factor.
The Activity app, and the three “ring” circus of Move, Exercise and Stand speak to the zen-like potential of lifestyle management.
Does anyone doubt that Apple is now and forever more a fashion brand? I’d posit that Apple could acquire Nike tomorrow, and not only would it make perfect sense, but it would seem "obvious" in retrospect.(Sidebar: Nike is about 12% of the market cap of Apple.)
Put another way, are new forms of denim and carbon-based wearables really that disconnected from what Apple does in the areas of design, material composition and solution stack assembly?
In this context, the acquisition of Beats starts to make sense. You see it in the fact that with Apple Watch, Apple starts to celebrate the diversity of the three watch segments – Watch Sport, Watch, and Watch Edition -- and supporting a lot more SKUs.
This is now irrevocably Tim Cook's Apple, and so it's time for all of us to Think Different before pulling out tired maxims about what Apple is (and is not).
When you look at this in the purest sense, Apple Watch is a celebration of design, innovation, integration and Continuity.
Apple Watch is a great big middle finger to the high priests of MVPs (minimum viable products), Free, and Low-End Disruption (see Clayton Christensen).
Who else but Apple could tackle all of the layers that make up Apple Watch to give life to beautiful jewelry and an extrapolated, fully realized domain?
I was wrong when I tweeted that if we're talking about the "watch" on Apple Watch, then Apple blew it. Apple Watch is indeed a celebration of the watch; much better than I thought, or frankly, could have imagined.
So Where’s the Deep Conflict?
The thinking is that in assessing Apple Watch, it makes more sense to compare it to Google Glass than to the iPhone.
Both Google Glass & Apple Watch represent a new **kind** of sensory device, with new types of jobs yet to be defined, and all of the requisite challenges of answering 'WHY.'
By contrast, with iPhone, EVERYONE aspired to a device that could collapse phone, internet and media into one cohesive experience.
The questions were more along the lines of 'WHAT' and 'HOW.'
It's much less obvious that consumers are demanding an integrated watch, communication companion (since iPhone/Android is so good) and health/fitness (still a bit of niche).
I don't think that that is a bad thing, per se; just that it makes more sense to think of the challenges in terms of creating and cultivating a new kind of behavior, versus integrating and enhancing an existing set of activities as was the case with iPhone (and iPad).
Here, I think that a key variable in how successful Apple Watch will be, is how tethered MUST it be to iPhone.
The jogger who wants to use Apple Watch as their exercise monitor of choice doesn’t want to have to also bring their iPhone to capture GPS and run path.
Part of me thinks that answer lies in segmenting the portion of 200M iPhone users that are most likely to embrace Apple Watch for continuity of access, communications, command and control.
I can see Fleet Applications for Police, Army and Government workers. Hospital patients and University students seem natual and obvious. I can envision new kinds of sharing networks that harness Apple Watch as a dynamic entry key fob into an AirBNB style universe.
I guess my point is this. There are no guarantees; there is no textbook for creating a wholly new sensory experience at the scale Apple aims to do things.
With Apple Watch, attempting to prognosticate success or failure is folly. If anything, it's easier to recognize what failure looks like than what success will look like.
In that light, Apple has passed the first hurdle.
Then again, if not Apple doesn't pursue this BHAG (big, hairy, audacious goal), then who will carry the torch?
UPDATE: John Gruber of Daring Fireball wrote a truly excellent piece on the Apple Watch. It's a must read. His frame of analysis is very rich and reasoned. Here is a quote, which is very insightful when you think about it: "I think Apple Watch is the first product from an Apple that has outgrown the computer industry. Rather than settle for making computing devices, they are now using computing technology to make anything and everything where computing technology — particularly miniature technology — can revolutionize existing industries."
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