Is it overhyped luxury or sensible technology?
Unlike its previous products, Apple has positioned its latest baby Apple Watch as a lifestyle or fashion product to attract even those who don’t really swear by high-end technology. Although it looks great and classy, sitting on one’s wrist in terms of form factor, it doesn’t do anything new or different from an iPhone. So, does that make the watch an overhyped product?
Until we adopt electronic tattoos and chips as implants on or under our skin, wearable gadgets particularly smartwatches, is the technology closest to humans in their daily lives. For entrepreneurs and professionals, Apple Watch, similar to other smartwatches, is essentially about two aspects. First, checking notifications without having to pull smartphones out of their pockets, and second, health benefits, including tracking daily active calories burnt, with steps taken daily, daily amount of exercise undertaken and time spent sitting and standing.
Kari Krishnamurthy, VP, Growth and Partnerships, Asia and Country Manager, India, Truecaller, is a typical Apple fanboy using Apple products beginning from iPods. He bought Apple Watch in June this year though he didn’t intend to buy it. Later, he fell in love with it because of its fitness features. “I am a fitness freak and go to gym everyday so it’s been very helpful. Features like it taps on my wrist to tell me when to stand up if I’m sitting for a long time are good,” says 40 year-old Krishnamurthy having the 38mm size Apple Watch.
Expensive than other existing smartwatches with basic functions similar to others, Apple Watch rationally seems to be an overhyped product for someone coming across it for the first time. But the feel of a premium brand along with the convenience it brings somehow overshadows its price. “It snugly fits into my wrist and doesn’t bite my skin like other wearables, such as Moto 360, which was a bit clunky for me while Fitbit was quite big and the overall feel wasn’t nice,” says Krishnamurthy, who believes buying Apple Watch can only be an emotive buy not a rational buy because of it price.
“It is not overhyped. I think the price is reasonable with the kind of quality and features it offers like Bluetooth connectivity and heart rate monitor. I love watches and have more than 30 watches. Looks matter a lot to me, so having an Apple Watch is a complete different experience,” says Pradeep Sajjan, Founder & CEO, Room On Call, an online marketplace for branded budget hotels similar to OYO Rooms and Zo Rooms. Sajjan bought the watch in August this year. It is certain that just glancing over your notifications by just flipping your wrist is simpler and convenient than bothering your phone every time, unlocking it and then checking the notification.
But bluntly looking at this ease of use, does it really help in business productivity? “Features like Calendar definitely help in enhancing business efficiency since adhering to time is very important at least for entrepreneurs. Although I never missed any meeting, it alerts me beforehand about any meeting and this helps me being time bound even if my phone is away,” says Deepak Ravindran, Founder & CEO, Lookup. Lookup is a hyper local messaging app based in Bengaluru. Ravindran bought 38mm version when it was launched in April this year but switched to 42mm later because of its big size and better battery backup.
Using Pebble earlier, Ravindran jumped to Apple Watch impressed by its brilliant screen resolution apart from the ability to make and receive calls and its crown feature to zoom in and out of pictures and maps, scrolling lists, volume control, etc.
Apart from productivity question, the area where the most expensive smartwatch scores low is its 18-hour of approximate battery life. “Charging a smartwatch everyday is quite unrealistic for me in order to buy it. So Apple has to definitely improve upon the watch’s battery life. Also, affordability needs attention although it will be a hot cake in a market like India that has a lot of potential for smartwatches,” says Ravindran.
“It didn’t overwhelm me primarily in terms of design because I wanted it to look like a real watch, to be round and little thinner. But I don’t think Apple will make any changes on the hardware part. The watch is just for selective things to do that you do on your smartphone and not for everything,” says Nilay Arora, Country Head & Vice President – Marketing and Business Development, WeChat India, who bought the watch around April this year.
The watch however helped Arora lose 2 kg (from 71 to 69 kg) in two months. While wearables, including smartwatches, are still at a nascent stage but like smartphones, they will also evolve rapidly. The Apple Watch, hence is still a work in progress. Probably the second generation watch will be a move forward in terms of value with alleged features it might get such as built-in GPS, better battery life and pricing, FaceTime Camera for video calling, Wi-Fi chip and more when it is released next year probably.
(This article first appeared in the Indian edition of Entrepreneur magazine (October, 2015 Issue).