The big non-surprises announcement at Apple’s mega-launch event was all about the new iPhone X. It’s a major gamble for Apple, given the 10-year anniversary of the iPhone and anticipation the next evolution of the smartphone would be loaded with innovative new features. Whether talking emojis will do the trick remains to be seen.
But perhaps the biggest question surrounding this next generation version of iPhones is whether consumers will shell out $1,000 for it. It’s notable the biggest fork in the road for the smartphone space may have more to do with price point than with its capabilities.
The event started, however, around a different Apple product – one that has struggled since its launch in 2015. Apple Watch 3 is the company’s latest attempt to resuscitate demand around a product in search of a purpose. As the various frills surrounding this new version of Watch rolled out, it’s clear Apple is thinking about its device as targeted at the health-conscious.
Apple’s Watch has had a hard time finding its market. In the three Techsurveys fielded since it came out (our 2015 study pre-dated the actual launch), the good news is that smartwatch ownership has doubled each year. But the bad news is the entire category is only at 8%. Millennials are the generation most likely to sport a smartwatch on their wrists, but still only 12% of them have bought into this technology.
In contrast, our most recent Techsurvey tracks fitness wearables (like Fitbits) at 26% – more than three times greater than smartwatches. And we’re showing Alexa-like devices like the Amazon Echo at 11%.
Whether Apple can breathe life into the category with this newest version of Watch remains to be seen. One of the most headline-worthy advances is that Watch is no longer is tethered to an iPhone, operating on built-in LTE.
But like many emerging technologies, consumers, businesses, and third party developers may be the catalysts that spur innovative uses for devices like Watch. Last week, in fact, the baseball world illustrated ground-up creativity with the Apple Watch. To whit, the New York Yankees filed a formal complaint against arch-rivals Boston Red Sox for using these devices to steal signs.
Now the practice of one team sneakily trying to decipher the other team’s pitches has been a regular baseball occurrence since the days of Babe Ruth. The difference in this new accusation of foul play is the Red Sox were allegedly using an Apple Watch to communicate pitches to a trainer in their dugout who then relayed them to the batter. (The Red Sox counter-accused the Yankees of using TV camera to accomplish the same thing.)
This novel use of the Apple Watch in a Major League Baseball game may be a first, according to Commissioner Rob Manfred, tasked with conducting the investigation. And it’s certainly more clever than deflating footballs.
Will Apple Watch 3 be the game-changer Cupertino is hoping for? It won’t be available until later this month, so it will take time for this new product to find its market and new uses.
Stealing signs is probably not on the menu.
And for the record, Carl Yastrzemski and Pedro Martinez wouldn’t have been caught dead wearing an Apple Watch.
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,000 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.