OPINION10 March 2015

Apple Watch will prove a winner


With its sleek design, huge budget and eager consumer-base, M&C Saatchi Mobile’s James Hilton thinks the Apple Watch will be an innovation to appeal to multiple markets.

As the new Apple Watch gets ready for its much lauded launch on April 24th, consumer excitement is building, with the brand already predicting sales to surpass 10 million by the end of the year.  And with a basic price of £299 to £13,500 Apple looks set to infiltrate all areas of the market.

The Watch is another sign that many form factors can work with a mobile device.  The mobile is increasingly becoming the hub of all your daily interactions, with other technology augmenting it.

Its design is simple but stunning with much technical wizardry – including the ability to send users the next form of emoticons – heartbeats and tiny digital notes. This means the consumer can connect with others in fun, spontaneous ways.  It also seeks to target a demographic where people have stopped wearing watches altogether, which again, makes smart business sense.

The best innovation will come from the software developed for it. Citymapper is one excellent example of an amazing user experience of navigating to your destination without using your phone

The aim of the Apple Watch is to simplify users’ lives, by ultimately replacing car keys, credit cards, or hotel room keys – the list goes on – as well as offering a wide range of consumer applications, such as health, connectivity and films. On the Watch wearers can read emails, receive calls and social media alerts, summon Siri and track fitness goals, all without pulling out their smartphone.

However, other smart watches have tried and failed to engage with this market.  Look at the Samsung, Pebble or android LG watches.  But Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, believes that the “the wrist is the perfect place for this technology”. And users will need to own an iPhone 5 or more recent handset to provide many of its functions, plus there is silence around any business applications.

And yet, Forrester research suggests that 20m people in the US alone would buy anything new from Apple, proving the brand has a ready-made market of at least 10m sitting and waiting for any new product it builds.  

The Apple watch could also prove to be an essential tool for business,as pointed out by Ben Dansie at Omobono, such as in negotiations (no-one can tell you to turn your watch off) so users can have the most salient points on their arm. Likewise, having a skeleton presentation on one’s watch might be a reassuringly simple tool, and business people are constantly on the move, so the watch could be super convenient for buying coffees with Apple Pay.

As with anything – it does have some problems – short battery life, more expensive than competitors, tied to iPhone software. But it’s unlikely to replace the iPhone as the best seller, due to lack of upgrade cycles and reliance on iPhone tethering.

Some critics are saying the Apple Watch will be obsolete in two years and it has no new functions. But I am convinced the Apple Watch will be a sure fire winner: it is developed by Apple, designed by the brilliant Jony Ive, and has a reported £500 million budget behind it to help promote the watch as useful and fashionable, and leading brands like Nike are already designing apps specifically for it.

 James Hilton, is global CEO, M&C Saatchi Mobile