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Could the Apple Watch Actually Hurt Apple's Phone Business?

Could the Apple Watch Actually Hurt Apple's Phone Business?

Apple Watch

Image credit: Apple
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The Apple Watch officially hits store shelves on April 24th. The wearable has a number of built-in features for things like messaging, phone calls, and checking the weather as well as support for third-party apps that let you do everything from check in for your flight to unlock your front door.

Apple has designed the smartwatch not just to compliment your iPhone, it almost replaces it. You can answer calls, send texts, and read entire email messages on its tiny screen. Apps like Uber allow you to hail a cab, and Expedia can let you know your flight’s been delayed and give directions to your hotel when you land.

There’ so much functionality that -- if these things were Internet ready and not reliant on Bluetooth or Wi-Fi -- you might not need to use your iPhone at all anymore. By making us gradually less interested in our phones, Apple might be in turn ultimately hurting its phone sales.

Related: The First Official Look at the Apple Watch, Including New Features, Apps and Details

Decreasing the need for a new iPhone?

The argument can be made that at its onset the Apple Watch will help drive iPhone sales. You do, after all, have to have an iPhone in order to use the device. That means that Android users and other non-smartphone folks will have to buy an iPhone along with their shiny new watch. Are people who don’t own smartphones going to be rushing to buy the Apple Watch? Maybe not, but anyone who doesn’t have a new-ish iPhone is going to have to buy one.

Once they do, however, the pressure to update that phone might not exist, at least not in the way it has in generations past.

The Apple Watch works with the iPhone 5 and above. Later this year when the iPhone 7 is potentially released, that iPhone 5 owner will be faced with the decision of whether or not he or she should upgrade the handset. Without an Apple Watch, the decision might have been simpler. A faster, thinner, version subsidized with a new two-year contract seems like a bit of a no-brainer.

Related: With ResearchKit, Apple Wants to Use Your iPhone For Medical Research

When you’re using your watch all the time instead of your phone, though, the reason to upgrade gets a little hazier.

There are always going to be people who want the latest and greatest device (myself included), but for others, the need to update an iPhone they don’t really use anymore might be non-existent.

The future is wearables.

If the Apple Watch is truly as successful as Apple seems to think it will be, we’re likely to see a future where the iPhone becomes an unnecessary add-on to the device. What if your watch had a SIM card and was capable of working without the iPhone? For the average user, that might be enough. It’s something that music artist and tech evangelist will.i.am is already trying out with his Puls smartwatch. [https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/243046]

Maybe in the future we’ll see watches that provide data for your tablet rather than the other way around. That way you can use a larger screen when you need to, but can rely on the heavily portable watch face when you don’t. It seems like a crazy idea now, but it could be a reality a few years down the line.

What do you think? Will the Apple Watch stir iPhone sales or hurt them in the long run?

Related: Apple Announces New MacBook, Less Expensive Apple TV