As is the case with most announcements from Cupertino, the Apple Watch has been one of the most anticipated new product releases from a company famous for them. Rumors of an “iWatch” have swirled for years it seems, and the Watch represents the first new product line in quite some time from the technology giant. And while many tech blogs and review sites will make bold predictions regarding its durability, usability, rate of adoption, etc., all you really want to know is whether or not it will change the way you do business. The answer is yes, it can certainly change your day-to-day business processes, but that doesn’t mean you should invest in it just yet.
To be fair, I have not interacted with the watch in person yet. I can’t speak to its aesthetic appeal, its sturdiness, its interface, intuitiveness or any other physical aspect of it. What I can speak to is its potential.
As with any new Apple product, there’s always an opportunity for it to upend the market. When it comes to wearables, no company has cornered that emerging subsection of the hardware industry. There are some solid fitness trackers out there and other companies have even tried their hand at smart watches, but none of the other comparable hardware can really match the bevy of features touted by Apple’s new entrant.
Does it look gorgeous? Absolutely. Does it offer cool features that could come in handy? Sure. But, does it do anything that your phone can’t do? Hardly. If it works as described, there is some great potential with fitness monitoring and feedback. The ability to track heart rate, speed, elevation, etc. are all cool features for the physically active among us.
Will those help you do your job better? Only from an HR standpoint if you have an exercise rewards-based insurance plan. Other than HR, I’m struggling to see the utility from an enterprise standpoint within the fitness suite of functionalities.
While you can respond to messages and dictate to Siri via the watch as you receive notifications and action items, none of that requires a wearable to achieve — your phone works just fine and is one second away in your pocket. Plus, the Watch can’t do those things without being paired to your phone.
Watch will be able to play music, but there’s no word on the internal storage (nor will that really help your bottom line from an enterprise perspective). There are some new direct communication features between Watch wearers, but once again, nothing that your phone can’t accomplish.
Apple Pay, which some think will finally launch the NFC payment industry into prominence, will also work through the Watch. This could help retailers from a check out standpoint, but Pay will also work on your phone. Yes, it will be faster not having to pull a phone out of your pocket, but is that one second really worth $350+?
To be clear, I’m not bearish on the Watch. Apple rarely swings and misses with a new product line. Many “industry experts” thought the iPad would have trouble finding a niche. Even though Apple was nowhere near the first company to experiment with tablets, they were the first to get it right. Now, the iPad dominates its segment. I wouldn’t bet against Apple, and I’m not betting against the Watch in the consumer market. But unlike the iPad, there are not a ton of obvious enterprise implications that I can see.
The lynchpin of the iPhone’s success has and will continue to be its apps. Despite picking up ground quarter over quarter, Android still does not have the breadth or depth of quality apps within its ecosystem. The same will soon be true in the wearable field as Watches’ apps overtake Android Wear’s.
Apple will open its Watch platform to developers many months before the hardware goes on sale in Q1 of 2015. That gives developers quite a runway to start ideating and developing amazing new apps for the emerging ecosystem.
That’s the beauty of this new hardware — you’re only limited by your imagination as to what it could do for your business. There most certainly will be ways in which a ground-breaking new technology could impact and improve the way you do business. They might not come in the standard set of included applications, but that doesn’t mean you can’t leverage what could be the next big peripheral by developing apps that can make your workers more productive or your customers more engaged.
Apple has given us another tool in our proverbial toolbox, but it’s up to us to figure out how to use that tool to its fullest potential. So, while we don’t see a ton of enterprise potential as it stands right this second, we do see quite a bit of promise once developers get their hands on the new app ecosystem.
Whether or not you choose to get out in front of that wave is entirely up to you.