Points of View

iWatch, iWait, iWonder

Mar 19, 2015 Former HfS Analyst

Apple’s recently made a perfectly timed announcement to build excitement around its soon to be shipped Watch.  By choosing the Monday after the 2015 Mobile World Congress closed, they found a big void for their press event to fill. Yet despite this, it is hard to see the device ever hitting the mainstream.


Unlike the iPod or iPad, the Watch does not consolidate access to a burgeoning new form of digital content. With Samsung announcing its suspension of activity in the market, it appears consumer demand for these smartwatches is less than robust.


Yet focusing in on the ultimate sales for this device could be a costly mistake. After all, Apple’s strategy has always been to profit off of mindshare not market share and the outcome of that approach means its products regularly drive waves of change disproportionate to their market weight. This is especially true when senior executives embrace one of their new devices. When this happens, directives get pushed throughout the organization to leverage the new platform regardless of whether a use case is well defined or even understood. We saw that with the iPhone and the iPad. Right or wrong, we expect to see it again with this watch.


After shipments begin in late April, we anticipate marketing departments across the G2000 will see their summers impacted by urgent requests to build out a presence on the Apple Watch.


To get ahead of this we recommend planning out your strategy now. As you do, here are three key observations to keep in mind:


  • “Appification” Will Force Even Greater Focus. The smartphone’s arrival brought with it literally billions of apps that packaged up information into simple tasks. The smartwatch UI is going to drive this trend of specificity even deeper.
  • Voice Becomes De Facto Form of Input. We are often reminded how quickly today’s norm can change. For example, when the iPhone first arrived, it conflicted head on with the clicky paradigm of Blackberry’s keyboard and many felt the new input interface would never take hold. We believe a general reluctance to speak to our computing interfaces is little more than inertia today.
  • Less is Absolutely More.  If there is only one step you take in preparation of your smart watch response, we would suggest it be to craft an answer to the following question:  What is the single most meaningful way your company can interact with the Apple Watch’s primary demographic? It will take years for these devices to hit mainstream – go for a smaller but immediate win instead.
Again, now is the time to get ahead of the pending impact from Apple’s Watch on our enterprise lives. Otherwise, you risk spending your summer on the drawing board rather than the beach.