Apple recently introduced Apple Watch to the world during their live September 2014 Special Event, but it won't hit stores until early 2015. This gives you plenty of time to check out the keynote, see what all the hype is about, recover from any potential "the future is now" moments you encounter along the way, and ponder how things could change in the next few months for wearable tech, social media, and life as we know it. How will Apple Watch impact the wearable tech industry, and what does that mean for the future of social media?
Apple Watch: First Impressions
In an attempt to answer this question, I tuned to the buzz on my trusty News Feed immediately following the Apple Watch announcement to listen in on what people were saying. The conversations included a variety of topics, such as:
- General tech geek excitement
- Apple Watch release date anticipation
- Discussions on the starting price tag at $349
- Favorite style options
- Typical Apple vs. Google, "love it" or "hate it" debates
I joined in on the conversation and solicited both friends and colleagues for their first impressions on Apple Watch - and after speaking with a few folks, I noticed an interesting trend begin to emerge from their feedback. The first take on the new smartwatch was either that it exceeded whatever expectations they had for the device, or that it wasn't cool enough or as innovative as they had hoped. Perhaps you encountered similar responses amongst your peers on the topic. Either way, I believe it is safe to say the overall expectations and "cool factor" for wearable technology set by consumers is at an all-time high. It's tough to say whether that is a blessing in disguise or a curse as we look ahead to future technology innovation.
Apple Watch vs. Wearable Tech
So what's in store for the wearable tech industry as a whole when the Apple Watch arrives next year? For starters, we'll have a better idea once Apple releases details and specs for the Apple Watch outside of what we learned at the launch. In the meantime, there is probably more speculation and questions than answers until more information is known. Let's take a closer look at some of these questions between the Apple Watch and other wearable tech gadgets in the coming months.
Smartwatches:How well does the Apple Watch match up against smartwatch competitors? Check out this graphic by Bloomberg Businessweek to see an excellent side-by-side visual and feature breakdown for the Apple Watch, Moto 360, Samsung Gear S, LG G Watch R, and Sony SmartWatch. The Apple Watch definitely passes the eye test, but comes with a steeper cost than most smartwatches in addition to the downside of limited app access for non-iPhone users.
Google Glass: Is the Apple Watch a Google Glass killer? Can the two get along? It is still up in the air if and when Glass will go mainstream in the coming years. My best guess is that in 2016 there will be a million people wearing Glass and it will cost them anywhere between $300 to $700 to own. Having said that, I believe as wearable tech continues to grow in popularity, there will be several reasons why people will opt to wear both devices instead of one or the other. It really boils down to how each individual uses the devices and what functionality they want to get out of each. For example, one could record a video, take a picture, get GPS directions, listen to music, and/or have an email read back to them with Glass while responding to a text or Liking a Facebook post on the Apple Watch. At the end of the day, when people try Glass on for the first time, there is a 99.9% chance it completely blows them away. I just don't envision people having the same response with the Apple Watch upon seeing it light up for the first time on their wrist.
Wristbands: How about the Jawbone UPs and Fitbits of the world? Will the Apple Watch do to wristbands what the iPhone did to MP3 players? I think this is an area to definitely keep an eye on as Apple focuses its products, apps, and iOS releases towards health and fitness. Sure, wristbands are a different category of wearable tech, but it won't surprise me if people give up valuable real estate on their wrist to make room for a shiny new Apple Watch.
Wearable Cameras/Camcorders: Does GoPro have anything to worry about? I don't think so. GoPro wasn't worried about competition from Google Glass last fall and I imagine the same goes for Apple Watch. Again, the usability and functionality of these wearables is ultimately up to the individual user. If I plan on swimming or participating in a mud run obstacle course, then I am taking the GoPro with me and leaving Google Glass and Apple Watch at home.
VR Headsets: What impact could Apple Watch have on virtual reality headgear such as Oculus Rift and/or other players in the Virtual Reality wearable tech arena? To answer this question, I reached out to Reverend Kyle, Host of the Rev VR Podcast, for enlightenment on the topic. Here's what he had to say:
"Nobody wears watches anymore. Once Virtual Reality systems like the Oculus Rift and Samsung's Gear VR become mainstream, folks won't want to look like Dick Tracy, they'll want to look like Johnny Mnemonic."
Smart Jewelry: How can wearable tech companies that offer style as a benefit, e.g. Cuff, further differentiate themselves from Apple Watch? Both devices offer stylish activity tracking and notification capabilities. Why buy one or the other if I only care about those features? Price is one. Cuff jewelry packages start at $29 and go up to $199. A second idea is coming up with a "cool factor" or way to convince that guy or girl who hates wearing jewelry, watches, wristbands, etc., to change behavior and wear the product.
Apple Watch and Social Media
One of the benefits of the Apple Watch is the ability to connect with others through feeling notifications pushed over to the device. This will be great for fast interactions or if you want to instantly find out when someone performs one of the following actions on your social media pages:
- Likes your Facebook posts
- Retweets/Favorites one of your Tweets
- Gives you a +1 on Google+
Anything more complicated than that, such as posting a status update, will require switching gears to your mobile device.