| Andrej Sokolow |
BERLIN (dpa) – The praise has been fairly unanimous since Apple revealed plans for its first smart watch.
But the 2015 release of the Apple Watch will also show how well the company can pull off an entire new product range without founder Steve Jobs.
Speculation is high that the watch will hit markets in February or March.
It’s not the first of its kind. There have already been smart-watches from giants of the field, such as Samsung, Motorola, Sony and LG.
But there is widespread anticipation that Apple will be able to take the concept to the next level.
“The Apple Watch will be the first mass-market device in the field,” says Phil Libin, boss of online storage service Evernote. His company is already creating apps for the watch. Market expert JP Gownder of market analyst firm Forrester thinks that at least 10 million people could be wearing an Apple Watch by the end of 2015.
But there are also lingering doubts about whether a wrist-mounted computer will ever be able to enjoy the same level of success as Apple’s smartphones.
“For example, I don’t like wearing a watch, so I’m not likely to use a smart-watch,” says investor Fred Wilson, who was one of the first market watchers to see the growth potential of Twitter and online gaming company Zynga.
He notes that a lot of people have already given up watches, because they have smartphones.
Time will tell what will come of Apple’s vision. The company has worked for years to come up with the right way to release a watch that will act as a complement to a smartphone.
A recently released platform for software developers shows that the watch is intended to be linked very closely to the iPhone. That means a lot of the computing power will remain with the phone, which will have the more powerful processor and battery.
Apple’s plan would be for a watch that expands on the iPhone and replaces it when possible. It’s also designed to adapt to situations.
According to reports, its display content will normally be limited to a few essentials, but with the ability to add more if it can tell from the way a user’s arm is being held that a person is looking at the screen more intently.
The question is whether there’s a market for such a device.
A Forrester survey showed that 40 per cent of US smartphone users – but only half that number in Europe – said they were tired of routinely fishing their smartphone out of a pocket so they could use it.
Building on that, Libin says he sees a future in which intelligent software figures out which information is relevant and sends it to whichever smart device is currently in use.
Apple is also hoping to catch customers with some neat communications options. Partners will be able to exchange recordings of their heartbeats.
They’ll also be able to use their finger to create images on one machine and have those pictures appear in real time on another user’s screen.
But will that be enough to convince millions to buy Apple’s smart-watch? After all, there’s enough competition from Android-based devices. Google’s Android Wear has been available since the summer, creating a complete platform that manufacturers like Motorola and LG have started to use.
Whichever firm takes the lead, analysts expect significant sales in the field. Market researcher Canalys expects that more than 28 million smart-watches will be sold in 2015, four times turnover in 2014.
Until now, early adopter Samsung has dominated, with 52 per cent of the market in the last quarter, far ahead of Motorola, which stood in second place with 15 per cent.