Before the unveiling of the Watch, I boldly proclaimed that this device will have a bigger impact on society than the iPad. Needless to say, this did not go down well with members of the Cult of Mac community on Google Plus here. And even after the unveiling, I stood by my original views, despite feeling somewhat disappointed by the lack of health features on this first generation device.
As a result, I felt very vindicated after reading this well written piece by Ben Thomspon, who thoroughly analyzed the pros and cons of the Watch and Apple’s strategy for this device going forward in a more eloquent manner than I did. While I foresee the Watch being bigger than the iPad, Ben Thompson sees it as being the digital Hub 3.0:
The Watch will eventually be Digital Hub 3.0 – This is perhaps the most controversial assertion I will make, and if you disagree with me here, then the rest of my argument doesn’t really matter. I believe that in the long run – i.e. not this version of the Apple Watch, but the one several iterations down the line – the Watch will have cellular capability and the ability to interface with any number of objects, including accessories that have larger screens and/or superior input methods,1 and will be the center of your computing existence. From Apple’s perspective, that means the Watch category is the very long-term replacement for the iPhone, at least for some segment of the population. Again, I’m not talking about 2015 or probably anytime in the next five years, but rather the very long term.
The Watch’s competition is the iPhone – This may seem a bit strange at first glance – isn’t the Apple Watch competing against Android Wear devices? – but the truth is that the number of people who will start with the premise they want a smart watch and then decide which one to buy is miniscule. Rather, the Apple Watch is competing with non-consumption: people who don’t wear watches because their smartphone is “good-enough” at telling time. For the Apple Watch to achieve the level of success that would justify it as a tentpole product for Apple, it must appeal to far wider audience than those who are already interested in smart watches; to put it another way, the Watch must be clearly superior to the iPhone in your pocket in enough ways to justify not only the additional expense of buying it but also the hassle of wearing it and charging it nightly. This means a vibrant app ecosystem that unlocks a wide array of functionality that no one company could ever come up with on its own
I especially appreciated that Ben Thompson has a long term view of the Watch when he said, “I’m not talking about 2015 or probably anytime in the next five years, but rather the very long term.”