Apple Watches Wearable Technology Pass on By

by Matt Klassen on February 11, 2013

Ever since Apple unveiled the sixth generation of its iPod Nano MP3 player several year ago, you just got the sense that an entirely untapped market niche of gaudy oversized smart watches was just around the corner. While sceptical, I nevertheless pondered at the time whether the iPod Nano might be the first bumbling effort in a tech segment that had some real potential, and it looks like the rest of the tech market has finally realized that as well. In fact, wearable technology is a growing force in the larger tech market; boldly sounding its arrival at this year’s much maligned CES in Las Vegas.

The entire wearable technology market presents a company like Apple amazing opportunities to essentially revitalize, recreate, and then dominate as its done in the past with the iPod, iPhone, iPad, and essentially everything else its touched.

While some (like me) will surely continue to question the logic behind any sort of foray into wearable technology from the Cupertino company, it strikes me as the sort of struggling market the company used to ferociously dominate. But that was the Apple of old, and if there’s one thing Tim Cook’s new Apple lacks, its clearly ferocity. So while the iWatch presents a golden opportunity for Apple to rediscover its magic, its more likely it’ll simply be content to watch it pass on by.

You don’t have to be Nostradamus to see a future in which wearable technology is an inexorable part of our daily digital existence. In fact, seeing patents applications over the past few years, its clear that many companies envision that flexible smartphone arm bands, digital interface body art, and a myriad of other seemingly random and useless wearable applications may somehow become part of our maturing ‘connected everything’ lifestyle.

So where is Apple in all this? As I mentioned, almost two years ago the company released the sixth generation iPod Nano, a small square device that was ostensibly marketed as a piece of wearable wrist technology, a sort of iWatch. While there was nothing particularly appealing about such a product at that time, it has proved to actually be fairly prophetic, as many companies have jumped on the wearable technology wagon this year.

But since then Apple has gone AWOL, content to ride the momentum of the continually shrinking tsunami of consumer interest it created with products like the iPhone and iPad, shying away from seeing products like an iWatch through to fruition; content to let others do it instead.

The problem, of course, is that the Apple hype of old is long gone, meaning that if the Cupertino company decides to enter the wearable technology game far behind its major competitors, it might already be to late, as there’s nothing unique enough about Apple anymore to lure consumers away from its competitors en masse.

As CNET writer Brian Bennett observes, “I’m afraid Apple hasn’t demonstrated its signature ferocity in recent years. We haven’t seen a truly disruptive product from the company since the first iPad. Every noteworthy hardware release since then has been evolutionary and incremental, not transformative. The iPad Mini is simply a smaller iPad, while the iPhone 5 essentially increased the screen from 3.7 to 4 inches. Its A6 processor is also dual-core where many Android CPUs have gone to full quad-core and it received 4G LTE well after its rivals.”

While I will admit that the answer to Apple’s lack of innovation and domination of late may not be something like an iWatch, it does strike me as a market segment with significant consumer interest and little competitive innovation, the perfect storm for a company once known for its ability to effortlessly swoop in for the kill.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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