Will Apple Watch Live Up to the Hype?

That is my immediate question after hearing Apple CEO, Tim Cook, speak earlier today and claim that the Apple Watch reduce smartphone use and provide a new, regular communications tool for consumers.

As the whole industry knows, today Apple shed light on upcoming new devices and provided product demos as well. Particularly as Apple was expectedly missing from Barcelona’s Mobile World Congress, everybody was looking forward to this Monday to hear what Apple has to say about the company’s future. The stakes are high. According to our data, Apple is the leader in the US both in smartphones (42% iPhone market share) and tablets (43% iPad market share) – However, can they still grow in the future, even within new device categories? At the same time, the industry is bull and bear on Apple’s chances of finding a strong business line with Apple Watch.

Among all of the other devices mentioned, Apple Watch was probably the biggest announcement today. Tim Cook detailed many great aspects though many of these were as expected. I have been using my Samsung Gear S smartwatch for notifications already for months, and the same feature seems to be a highlight for the Apple Watch, too (thereby, nothing new there). Apple also talked up the fact that Apple Watch should be able to survive 18 hours with normal use, which I would say is the minimum expected – does the average consumer want to get a smartwatch requiring a daily charging – one more device to plug in – this remains to be seen!

I found one of the most striking points made was the claim that Apple Watch will change communications and reduce the time spent on smartphones. This is a bold claim – I mentioned already owning an Android smartwatch and I have to admit that I love the notifications; it replaces the need to check on your smartphone every few minutes. However, I do not use my smartwatch for any type of communications yet (sending messages, making calls, or instant messaging). Will Apple be able to figure this use case out, and build incremental value vs. other smartwatches we have already seen?

What really piqued my interest, and the interest of many others, was Apple’s announcement about ‘ResearchKit,’ putting Apple devices to work for medical research. This new program is all about letting Apple users to collect data on their health, and provide that for the purposes of medical research and health apps. This is a bold move – everybody knows how big the health care industry is, and Apple is going into that industry with all in. The whole idea of crowdsourcing a collection of medical data is great. Being able to provide consumers with benefits and tangible value, while being able to collect that data in scale from those same consumers, is the key. If Apple is going to be successful in the health field, they will need to tic many boxes as it is a new industry for them. I’m sure Wall Street would love to see this working out. It would also improve their brand value if Apple can help people live longer and healthier as well as brand loyalty.

While I believe the health-related apps and the mass-market demand for them and Apple Pay both have great upside, I feel they are more long-term bets. In order for Apple to sell Apple Watch devices to 10% of iPhone users this year, it all depends on the usability and the use cases. I believe Apple Watch will be a great success, if it can more dramatically (vs. Android smartwatches) take user time away from smartphones and highlight the unique positioning of a powerful smart device on your wrist!

One thing is for sure – Apple has already won in terms of the publicity around Apple Watch. The whole industry looked towards San Francisco today at 9am Pacific. And, after all, with one month to go before the actual launch, Apple Watch has already won a 2015 iF Gold Award from the International Forum (iF) Design in its annual industrial design competition. The jury called the Apple Watch design “an icon” – even without the product being on the market!

With 6 million wearables in the US market– what does wearable growth look like for March 2016, and what is Apple’s market share? I’ll be keeping watch.