There has been a lot of talk around the Internet about whether or not Apple will make some sort of wearable tech, the most common rumor being an “iWatch”. While wearable tech has been an interesting market, it may not be one that Apple is interested in getting into.
We’ve seen some things that have been relatively successful, such as Nike’s Fuelband and the Fitbit, we’ve also seen some things that have fallen far short of expectations in terms of function and build quality (remember the Pebble?), and we’ve also seen some things that look moronic and are super creepy (Google Glass is a pervert’s dream). While we all know Apple makes great stuff, they could be viewing this market the same way that Microsoft views building handheld gaming systems.
Microsoft has done extremely well with the Xbox line, the new Xbox One Always-On Debacle notwithstanding. But the gaming giant has never released a handheld gaming system. Why is that? Why wouldn’t they want to jump in and try their hand at a mobile gaming device? I have two words for you. The first one is Nintendo, and the second one is Sony. Nintendo dominates the handheld gaming market and Sony’s PSP did well, and with the VITA, Sony hopes to come back after a slow start. Microsoft has wisely stayed away from this market because they know their customers and they know it would fail. Most of my friends who own an Xbox would never own a handheld system of any kind. They would prefer to play some games on their phones and save the “real” gaming for home. The few that would like a handheld would rather own a Nintendo system and play games that take them back to their younger days (A Link to the Past sequel? They’re there).
In this same way, Apple may prefer to wisely stay away from a market that is niche at best, and could be a source of ridicule and lost profits at worst. Right now, Apple is in the process of proving to the world that they still have it, that they are still capable of creating great products and services, despite having lost Steve Jobs in 2011. Despite the fact that Steve supposedly left the company with a 5 year road map, morons on the Internet are still calling for Apple to fail, and so Apple has to prove to everyone that though things are different without Jobs, they still have the ability to surprise, delight, and change the way we do things digitally. In this season of having to prove themselves, a failed iWatch would be just the sort of thing that “journalists” would pounce on. For this reason, among many others, they may just stay out of the market and let everyone else try to duke it out.
Then there’s the issue of just how niche of a product an iWatch would be. What is it good for? Besides the obvious telling of time, there is the ability to have notifications, read messages, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Here’s the thing: I have an iPhone in my pocket and I check it on a regular basis. That means that I check the time and see my notifications all the time. I don’t need to have a watch display my messages in near-microscopic text (or worse, two words at a time that I have to scroll through). I’m sure that Apple could include things that the Jawbone Up and Nike Fuelband have, but why would they build something that they already sell both online and in Apple Store’s nation wide?
iWatch? I’ll wait.