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Apple Watch Is Pushing The Smartwatch Industry

Apple Watch Is Pushing The Smartwatch Industry

May 7, 2015

Fred O’Connor, PC World:

The smartwatch market’s fate rides on the Apple Watch. If it fails, it could have as devastating an impact on smartwatch sales as Google Glass has had on smartglasses.

It is entirely true that the smartwatch market lies on the Apple Watch’s success. If it doesn’t become mainstream, neither will any other smartwatch. Everyone already knew that. I’m not sure about that Google Glass comment, though. Taking the inverse, that’s like saying the electric car industry is booming due to the yet-to-be-seen Tesla Model 3. Or perhaps that VR is right out because Oculus Rift still hasn’t shipped a consumer product. Remember, Glass was a field test — and an expensive one at that. There was little marketing, scant production, and a baseline cost of entry over four times higher than that of Apple Watch. Plus, there’s the whole stigma of glasses to take into account: As Abdel explained, people wear them because they have to, not because they want to. Watches are different in that regard.

O’Connor continues:

[I]f the Apple Watch is a hit with customers, its widespread adoption will help all smartwatch makers, including those running Google’s Android Wear, in part because the Apple Watch may be too expensive for a segment of buyers.

Prices for the smartwatch start at $349 and the device must be paired with a modern iPhone, a potentially expensive outlay. Smartwatches that run Android, by comparison, are sold at a variety of price points, which may appeal to the about 2 billion Android smartphone owners, and to Apple customers who want a more affordable smartwatch.

This is a very disingenuous way of presenting things. Firstly, anything not free is “too expensive for a segment of buyers.” Secondly, “modern iPhone” in this context means “iPhone 5 or newer.” The iPhone 5 will be three years old this September. Apple Watch, on the other hand, will still be brand new by then, and it will support handsets that most users in the market for the wearable already moved past some 12 months or more ago. This is a non-issue. Thirdly, yes, the Apple Watch is high-priced compared to some of its Android-based competitors, but it also does significantly more as big-name and indie developers alike stumble over each other to get their wares on the Watch App Store. Plus, it’s flat-out better design- and fluidity-wise. And somehow, despite the fact it’s apparently so expensive that most people won’t buy it, many reports indicate that Apple has sold 400 percent more units in a few weeks than Android Wear has been able to move in its first 18 months on the market.

Amusingly, O’Connor reports just that, contradicting his earlier premise entirely:

IHS predicts the Apple Watch will be successful, calling for 19 million units to ship this year, representing a 56 percent share of the smartwatch market. In comparison, 720,000 Android Wear devices shipped in 2014, according to research firm Canalys.

I don’t think there is any chance that Apple’s main competitor in the smartwatch industry ends up running Android Wear, and people seem to be agreeing with this thought more and more. The truth is that Android Wear is just conceptually flawed. Sure, they’ll rework it to resemble Apple Watch, but by then, the mindshare they never had will be even more out of reach.