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iWatch – Who Needs It?

April 29, 2014 – by Per Christensson

iWatch Concept by Gábor Balogh At the end of 2013, I predicted that Apple would not release the much anticipated "iWatch" this year. Since then, I've read numerous news articles and blogs with updates about the progress of Apple's futuristic wearable device. Earlier today, MacRumors published an article stating Apple has already started producing the iWatch in limited quantities.

The increasing frequency of iWatch rumors and updates suggest it is inevitable that Apple will release the iWatch later this year. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen. Why? For the same reason I mentioned before – nobody wants one.

I don't know anyone who knows anyone that wants an iWatch. Sure, there may be a few technophiles and Apple loyalists that would buy the iWatch just to have it, but that's not enough reason for Apple to develop one. Apple is very particular about the products it develops. The company makes sure their products will be usable and highly functional. That's why you don't see any awkward flipping, twisting, or separating laptop/tablet hybrids from Apple. They simply don't work well. I admire Apple for not going down that road just because all the other PC manufacturers did.

Several companies, such as Sony and Samsung have already released smartwatches and they have all failed miserably. Big surprise. Why do people need another screen on their wrist when their smartphone is only a few inches away in their pocket? Smartphones have taken the place of digital watches, so the main purpose of today's watch is to be an fashion accessory. That's fine, but it doesn't fit with a smart watch very well, even if the concept is intriguing (like the design above by Gábor Balogh).

Another major problem with the iWatch is the physical limitations. People are always complaining about their smartphone battery life (though it's actually incredible how much a phone can do on a single charge). A smartwatch's battery can only be a fraction of the size of a smartphone, even on a bulky model like my Garmin 405CX. That means it will have be recharged very frequently, possibly as much as a typical smartphone. While bendable materials, such as graphene and flexible OLEDs are in development, they cannot be mass produced yet. Therefore, Apple is not yet able to manufacture a smartwatch with an ideal design.

Let me reiterate – I don't think Apple will release an iWatch this year. However, it's possible the company will release some type of wearable device in the future. I think it will be more of a wrist band than a watch and will have the following characteristics:

  • Ultra energy-efficient, using solar power and motion to recharge while worn
  • Highly durable and waterproof, so it can be worn during rigorous physical activity
  • Has a flexible retina display that bends around the band
  • Monitors physical activity and heart rate
  • Includes temperature and air quality sensors
  • Runs iOS and communicates with the iPhone and other Apple devices

Still, I don't think Apple is going to release an iWatch or an "iBand" this year. If the company does eventually release such a product, I won't be one of the first to get one, like I was with the original iPhone. It just doesn't appeal to me. Of course, if Apple continues continues the trend Steve Jobs started, maybe they will invent a product I didn't know I needed.

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