- Forrester Councils
- Councils Overview
- log in
Posted by Sarah Rotman Epps on February 11, 2013
In the past few days, Wired, the New York Times, and the Wall Street Journal have all published reports of Apple creating a smartwatch -- a multifunctional wrist-based wearable with a curved glass display. At Forrester, back in 2011 we predicted that wearables would be one of the next important form factors in personal computing. In fact, we put a date on it: “Wearables will broaden from health and fitness to more verticals in 2013,” we wrote in the report, and in a follow-on report last April, we predicted that wearables would be a battleground for the platform wars between Apple and Google. An Apple smartwatch would fulfill that multifunctional vision we have for wearables, broadening the category beyond health and fitness.
The body is the next frontier for personal computing, and as Apple looks for new growth markets, it seems like only a matter of time before Apple enters the market directly. (Apple is already in the wearables market through its accessory partners like Nike, Jawbone, and Lark Technologies, and it sells all those devices in its Apple Stores.) But success in wearables is not an inevitability. The Wall Street Journal pointed out that Microsoft launched a smartwatch back in 2003, and discontinued it in 2008. Fossil has made Bluetooth smartwatches since 2006, but they weren’t a runaway success. An Apple iWatch would be different, and could provide the growth Apple is looking for, for several reasons:
Will an Apple smartwatch kill the feisty startups in the space, like Jawbone? My answer is no: Some startups are bound to fail, and Apple might hasten their demise, but there’s still a market for focused-functionality devices. The Jawbone UP is comfortable enough to wear night and day. The Misfit Shine tracks sports like swimming (and I doubt an iWatch will be that level of waterproof). And fitness wearables generally cost less than $150, which Apple won’t likely match. Most of all, an Apple iWatch will immediately make the behavior of wearing your tech acceptable, just as Siri created a new social norm of talking to your phone like it’s a person. In addition to startups, an iWatch puts the most pressure on Google to deliver something equally tantalizing for consumers and developers.