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INSIGHT: Hope, experience and the Apple Watch

INSIGHT: Hope, experience and the Apple Watch

“Gen 1 of any complex product, which aspires to a high design aesthetic - and let’s be clear, other smart watches don’t aspire to what the Apple Watch does - are almost never ready.”

As Mike McGuire, research analyst, Gartner, puts its…

“Hope whispers in your ear, ‘It’s new, it’s ready - you’re not quite sure why you need it - but you have to have one’.

“Experience whispers in the other ear, ‘Gen 1 of any complex product, which aspires to a high design aesthetic - and let’s be clear, other smart watches don’t aspire to what the Apple Watch does - are almost never ready.”

But as McGuire explains, experience always adds a caveat. “Keep an eye on how fast they iterate the device,” he advises. “If they change this, get rid of that between now and summer, and focus on a handful of specific pieces of functionality.”

In the eyes of McGuire, what has been billed as a milestone in wearable technology really shows the triumph of hope over experience.

Apple rolled out the Apple Watch earlier this week, in case you were living under a rock, and while all great things have to start somewhere, McGuire believes rarely are they perfect at the time they are launched.

“Apple’s embarked on adding a new product to its quiver,” he explains. “It dropped the WatchKit SDK on developers last year.

“They’ve created the requisite videos showing the creation of Apple Watches with design master Sir Jony Ive’s hushed voice-over explaining the importance of stainless steel and some sort of special aluminum (in your mind, use the British pronunciation, al-yoo-min-eeum).

For marketers, McGuire believes the Apple Watch represents an interesting thing to consider, but it might be too early to call it a real opportunity.

“OK wait,” he concedes, “if you’re a CMO or mobile marketer and you need to get your company some attention by being seen as edgy and thought-leading and embracing risk, you probably should consider it an opportunity.

“But positive business impact? I think you’ll be waiting a good while.”

For McGuire, apps will have to be redesigned, if not re-imagined. On the plus side however, McGuire believes some capabilities, such as being able to use Apple Pay by merely flicking your wrist at an NFC terminal are “extremely cool”.

“I mean, not having to reach for my wallet and credit cards? Kinda cool,” he adds. “Is it US$400 worth of cool? (Baseline Watches will go for about $349, at the upper end, an 18k gold Apple Watch for something like $10,000.)

“I think marketers can assume that several million Apple Watches will be sold initially - there are a large number of folks who love to buy new products, especially Apple products.

“What’s more likely to happen is that unless Apple fails to sell out its first production runs very quickly, mobile marketers should be looking to, and i don’t have any other phrase other than “play around” with an Apple Watch to see what might work for you.”

Or maybe, McGuire speculates, it’s an opportunity to engage customers and prospective customers on social media and see what they think?

“Somebody, besides Apple, is going to have to find the magic combinations of features and functionality that will make the product a must-have,” he adds.

“For mobile marketers, you don’t need to ignore Hope, you just need to make sure you filter Hope through Experience.”

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