At the start of the year I predicted some key technology trends for 2015, one of which was wearables, although I was unconvinced by the, then new, Apple Watch and where it was headed. You see, for me, my smartphone is my first port of call for obtaining the time and date and I have numerous tones set for my reminders, so I immediately know whether I have a new text message or email.
Her Personal Wrist Assistant
When it comes to a first-hand (excuse the pun) review however, my wife (Sarah) couldn’t disagree with me more, describing her Apple Watch as her personal wrist assistant and praising its virtues on an almost daily basis. And I have to admit to being impressed by several of its functions; in particular, the navigation option which tells the wearer when to turn left, right or continue straight ahead through a series of corresponding ‘taps’. When searching for a particular venue recently with my wife she was able to lead me confidently there without the slightest glimpse at her iPhone. I hate to admit it, but I was impressed and could immediately see the benefits of this form of navigation, not least to those people with impaired vision, who will no doubt feel reassured by the guidance provided through Apple’s ‘Taptic Engine’ technology.
I also have to admit to being impressed by the voice to text technology employed in the Watch, as Sarah was able to effortlessly reply to messages as soon as they arrived. So have I become an Apple Watch convert? Well, no! It’s still not for me, but I can certainly see why Apple has sold over 3.6 million units during the second quarter of 2015; that’s six times the number sold by its nearest competitor.
I can also see how some of its health apps have been welcomed by the medical communities. Just recently I had a health scare and my wife was able to track my heart rate using her Watch and send this information on to the paramedics, who were then able to determine the severity of the situation and act accordingly while en-route to me.
Sarah also uses her watch to track her daily activity levels and has set it to notify her when she needs to stand during the day. Having a desk-bound job like me, she finds these notifications particularly useful and a welcome excuse for a break from her screen.
Losing the Personal Connection
But let’s not celebrate Apple’s success just yet! They are far behind their initial predicted Watch sales figures of 40m and that’s not all that bothers me. I’m concerned that Apple has lost touch with their customers, with Tim Cook moving away from the ‘i’ persona of the brand, which Steve Jobs coined as being significant for the company in that it stood for “a lot”, including “inspire, instruct, inform, and individual”.
Apple has made the Watch more company centric rather than customer centric I fear, with the brand family i-bond being broken by Cook’s decision to remove the prefix, leaving the customer feeling less psychologically involved in the end product.
A Bitter Pill
I also believe that Apple themselves were concerned about just how popular their new offering would actually be. Could this be why they moved away from the traditional Apple Store launch queues for the Watch and, instead, made online reservations the only way to go?
For me, and for many other journalists in the industry, this shift marked another change in the way that Apple has chosen to engage with its customers. It has pushed them away from its doors and steered them to take another, less personal way of purchasing. Another theory is that manufacturing levels weren’t up to the anticipated rush of orders. Whatever prompted their decision, let’s face it, for most tech companies a second quarter sales figure of 3.6m would be cause for festivity but, for Apple it’s a bitter pill to swallow when compared to their over-hyped expectations.
A Shift in Loyalty
With Microsoft seriously ‘upping their game’ in terms of marketing and having unashamedly plagiarised Apple’s emotional pull-in with its latest Surface branding roll-out, I can see a shift in loyalty happening, as new exciting product choices that add real value on a personal level are presented to us.
Apple shouldn’t rest on their laurels and I don’t believe they will, but the halcyon days of the past are unlikely to be relived anytime soon, as the company is struggling to find new directions in terms of product development.
A Scary Final Thought
As I glance across to Sarah, noticing her setting a reminder on her Watch for a meeting tomorrow, I can’t help, but feel that Apple has inadvertently dumbed down their smartphone experience, relegating her iPhone to the deep dark depths of her handbag and removing the need for it to be anything more than a connectivity link to her wrist.
Cynical maybe, but could Apple’s new baby turn out to be the iPhone’s evil sibling – stealing the limelight from its big brother and taking the praise for its capabilities? Forgive the melodrama, but it’s that time of the year again. The time when scary movies are everywhere and pumpkins adorn every doorway. I feel a shiver run down my spine at the realization that Apple may have just created a monster and, in turn, and perhaps far scarier, I realize that they may have finally lost their interest in changing the world for the better.
Until Next Time …
Microsoft is due to launch an update next week for their new Operating System (OS) Windows 10 coined ‘Threshold 2’. Similarly, they’re aggressively pushing their Windows Mobile ready for their new phones – I have to be honest, I’m eager to ditch my iPhone for the new Windows 10 Mobile! I think it’s definitely an exciting time for Microsoft – certainly one to watch over the next year or so.
So, this is where a Windows-loving Dr. G, signs off.