Is Apple Watch Going to Turn Wearables Into a Mainstream Market?

Apple today published a new device, the new smartwatch entitled Apple Watch. What with the launch of the iPod in 2001, iPhone in 2007 and iPad in 2010, it is not that frequent that Apple launches a device into a new completely new device category. So is Apple Watch going to do the same to the wearables market as iPhone did to cell phones or iPad to tablets and laptops, and make wearables mainstream?

According to Verto Analytics August 2014 USA data, wearables are far behind other device categories. At 2% reach of online users in the US, it lags behind smart TVs, video game consoles, and electronic book readers. As a relatively young device category, it offers lots of upside potential in terms of diffusion.

“If Apple wants to transform wearables into the mainstream market they need to focus on engagement, function and context. The new device must make users want to invest their time to use the device screen. There also needs to be a social, upwards trend to make the new device desirable for a large audience,” comments Dr. Hannu Verkasalo, CEO of Verto Analytics.

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“It also means that Apple needs to be able to facilitate content and services, features and functions that transform the smartwatch into an everyday device that complements their other smart devices and makes sense for people to spend their time on. For example, the health related functions and the newly announced Apple Pay service could be the drivers for engagement,” Verkasalo continued.

If Apple is successful in terms of functionality, the Apple Watch will transform into a device that increases the time spent with online content, rather than cannibalizing it from other smart devices. The interplay and positioning with other devices will also support the success of Apple Watch as Apple users are loyal to the portfolio of products – according to Verto Analytics data from August 2014, as many as 42% of iPhone owners also own an iPad.

To encourage people to drop older devices, including normal watches, and capitalize on the wearable nature of the new devices, Apple must also prove the context or need for the smartwatch. People need to feel comfortable with using a smartwatch 24/7 and that it makes sense on their wrist. It is not the same as taking a phone from a pocket or a tablet from a bag to use. “As with the launch of iPad, Apple needs to convince consumers that they really need an Apple Watch. They need to execute on the promise that it really makes sense to wear this device on your wrist all the time to prevent people leaving it on their desk,” Verkasalo sums up.