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While Google has been hard at work on its vision of mainstream Geordi La Forge eyewear, Apple is searching for its next disruptive innovation. And while fan boys and investors alike have spent years waiting for Apple to unveil a TV, it appears as though the next Apple product line might come in the form of a watch.

The iWatch.

There is some palpable excitement building among members of the tech community. But, is it warranted? Let's give it some thought.

The global watch market is estimated at approximately $60 billion. Analysts at Citigroup predict that Apple could end up penetrating 10% of the market. Does this seem realistic?

While details are still somewhat scant, we do know a few things. The iWatch, or whatever it will end up being called, is slated to run a modified version of Apple's iOS, the operating system used on the iPhone. Just how much might such a product cost? Estimates range from $200 - $300. With the potential for a 60% margin, we're looking at a product with monstrous profit potential.

But, will people buy it?

From my point of view, I'm very skeptical. Smart Phones have rendered watches unnecessary from a practical point of view. Sure, it's nice to be able to quickly tell time, but you can do that and a whole lot more by pulling your phone out of your pocket.

Watches are becoming pure fashion items. From a male perspective, watches are essentially the only mainstream accessory that men can wear on a daily basis. Like a nice pair of shoes, a nice watch can help you stand out. Be it an old school Timex, a timeless Omega, or a futuristic Nooka, your watch selection can tell a great deal about your personal style.

So, what benefit would there be to having a Smart Watch in addition to my Smart Phone? Why would I trade in my Timex for an iWatch? What sort of features are rumored that might make the $200+ price tag worthwhile? Per Bloomberg:

Features under consideration include letting users make calls, see the identity of incoming callers and check map coordinates, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren't public. It would also house a pedometer for counting steps and sensors for monitoring health-related data, such as heart rates.

Meanwhile, concerns surrounding the product are apparently focused around battery life. Apple is hell-bent on ensuring the device can go for four to five days without needing a fresh charge. One can only hope, seeing as I've got to charge my iPhone 5 daily or it goes dead on me.

Frankly, I'm not sure that this kind of product is necessary. Is it really that important that we be able to read text messages on our wrist without having to reach into our pockets? Have we really become that lazy?

I can't help but remember that I was skeptical about the iPad before it was released. It just looked to me like a giant iPhone. Seeing as it's arguably the most successful consumer electronics device of all time, I think my skepticism was misplaced. No, we don't necessarily need devices like the iPad, but people sure as shit go out and buy them.

Interestingly enough, Apple isn't even the first player to market. Just as the iPod wasn't the first MP3 player, I'm looking at you, Rio Riot, Apple won't be the first to market with a Smart Watch. That honor belongs to the Pebble.

The Pebble is a Kickstarter funded project that costs $150 a pop. To date, 85,000 have been pre-ordered. We're talking a cool $12.5 million in sales. And if we assume a margin of 60%, the Pebble has brought in over $7.5 million to date. Not so bad for a crowdsourced product. Per the company's website:

Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. While designing Pebble, we strove to create a minimalist yet fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life.

Sounds like it has much of the same functionality as the alleged iWatch, only it's cheaper and it works with both iOS and Android enabled phones. Meanwhile, Apple allegedly has 100 engineers and design god Jony Ive working on the iWatch. I hope all that brain power can out-innovate a Kickstarter project that's beating them to market. Frankly, given that we're talking about a watch, I'm not sure it can in any meaningful way.

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Comments (17)

  • adapt or die's picture

    Apple is making all the wrong moves right now and the Galaxy S4 is about to come out.

    On a related note, I just bought a Bell & Ross last week

  • DBCooper's picture

    iTime? I don't really see it either, but who who knows? One rumor said that they have been backing off the TV, so I no longer know what to think.

    Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

  • Bobb's picture

    I see this as completely unecessary and Apple really trying to find something. Even though the Pebble was first, Apple will completely ignore the product and claim they are first to invent this.

  • abomnia's picture

    I think this is more of an Ipod replacement than a watch replacement. If the iwatch provides a few more functions than an Ipod, I don't see why it wouldn't sell in greater volume. With a pair of $40 bluetooth headphones it would turn into the perfect workout accessory and I'm sure there are a lot more practical uses than that. For listening to music in general I can't think of why it wouldn't be better than all current options. I think it will be HUGE.

  • Banker88's picture

    Oh man I already bought the last gen iPod Nano to wear as a watch.

  • grosse's picture

    10% share of a $60B watch market? I would fire me if I put out such a misinformed estimate.

    What is the market for fitness electronics (pedometers, Nike Fuel, etc.)? Give AAPL 100% share of that market and it still doesn't move the needle.

    This reinforces the bear case on AAPL - this'll never move the needle and that's the one thing AAPL needs.

  • andyinsandiego's picture

    Pebble connects to iPhone and Android smartphones using Bluetooth, alerting you with a silent vibration to incoming calls, emails and messages. While designing Pebble, we strove to create a minimalist yet fashionable product that seamlessly blends into everyday life.

    Can't your smart phone "alert you with a silent vibration of incoming calls, emails, and messages?"

  • In reply to grosse
    DontMakeMeShortYou's picture

    10% share of a $60B watch market? I would fire me if I put out such a misinformed estimate.

    What is the market for fitness electronics (pedometers, Nike Fuel, etc.)? Give AAPL 100% share of that market and it still doesn't move the needle.

    This reinforces the bear case on AAPL - this'll never move the needle and that's the one thing AAPL needs.

    It's like that time JPM said iPhone 5 sales would boost GDP by x bps, making the assumption that all such purchases would be incremental... because I guess they've never heard of the term "wallet share."

  • woodywoodford's picture

    10% of the market - highly doubtful. The *only* people I know who wear watches do it for the fashion aspect, as mentioned. It's the only "jewelry" a man can get away with it, so we collect everything from $500 designers up to $XXX,000 patek's. Not glorified computers. I could, however, see kids going ape over something like this. Not enough to move markets, but it'll sell.

  • whatwhatwhat's picture

    i dont know a god damn thing about the industry at all but not seeing the potential in something like this is crazy. we're all going to have some bullshit like this or the google nerd shit before the eventual moment where all this shit is implanted upon birth. i cant think of two better companies to get on some early mover shit and patent the fuck out of everything

  • SirTradesaLot's picture

    I bought the TikTok iPod nano watch thing on kickstarter a couple of years ago and I'll probably buy this. Why? I guess I like pissing money away.

    Also, reaching into your pocket to check your phone does not work in a lot of situations. Imagine you're with an important client and you lean back in your chair and start fumbling around in your pocket to get your phone. Now, you pull it out (the phone, that is) to check the time. Meanwhile the client is thinking 'wtf is wrong with this guy?'. Now you just lost millions in fees because you're too big of a jerk to spend a couple of hundred bucks on a watch. Anyway, that's how I'd market it.

    adapt or die:
    What would P.T. Barnum say about you?


  • Accrual Dictator's picture

    This is so idiotic, honestly. It's inventions like these which make me think that we're almost regressing as a society instead of progressing with technology like this. Are we getting so reliant on technology that we now feel the need to have not 1 (most people already have smart phones when I say this), but possible 2 minicomputers on us at all times? Most people don't even use a smartphone properly. I bought one because I use it to communicate through emails, figure out where I need to go if I need directions, etc. but most people only have a smartphone so that they can be on Facebook/Instagram 24/7 and instantly upload what they ate for breakfast to their friends, which is kind of sad in my opinion. Furthermore, it already annoys me that people can barely make eye contact nowadays and are constantly playing around with their phones, but now people are going to be looking at watches for non-existent text messages?

    Now that I've got that out of my system, I don't think this sells. The only way I would buy this is so that I can check my pulse while I'm at the gym (the heart rate monitors on cardio machines are inaccurate and there's no monitor for when I'm lifting weights), but there are much cheaper alternatives for that and I don't care for the other features. If Apple had done something with iTV and done an a la carte TV deal, I'd have more hope for them, but this company is going nowhere fast. Short Apple, Long Google or Samsung is the trade I reckon.

  • Bankn's picture

    At this point, both of these seem like geek gadgets. But for me I can say the "iWatch" would be the buy. Not only do I enjoy a nice watch, if it can do some interesting things and be high quality (both promising coming from Apple), then it seems like it could be a good buy. I would like if it doubles as a Nike wrist band too, taking my pulse, keeping track of my runs, etc.. I'm sure that's possible and likely.

    The Google Glass on the other hand...... Very cool idea, but pretty much pointless at this time. Good for geeks, stalkers, and maybe the alternative entertainment industry.

  • DBCooper's picture

    I doubt it, but if it had a flexible OLED screen, it would definitely improve performance and appeal to a way larger base of buyers.

    Please don't quote Patrick Bateman.

  • The 'Murican's picture

    While I am by no means an expert on Apple or Apple products, I genuinely believe this is a bad idea. I don't think people will want a watch that can perform the same tasks that your smartphone or tablet can provide. I don't see any added value in a gadget that you have to attach to your wrist doing something that a device concealed in your pocket can perform. While the watch industry is a $60 billion industry (according to recent Bloomberg article), I can't imagine that someone would choose a watch made by Apple over a more established luxury watch brand, but that's just me.

    However, I have to say this: this is Apple we're talking about. They keep coming out with upgrades to products, and people buy them in droves. Thus while I don't believe it's a good idea, I think it has potential to be a big seller based on Apple's name alone. My views can be summarized in this article by The Onion:

  • abomnia's picture

    Apple sold 35M ipods in 2012. A nano currently sells for $149 which leads me to believe selling a watch for $50 more is plausible. The fact that most people already have an ipod or iphone and they still sold 35M leads me to believe that they could sell more. Even if they upsell 50% of customers from a nano($149) or shuffle($49) to an iwatch, that's almost 2B in revenue. Anything beyond ipod cannibalization would make the additional revenue even larger. The iwatch is going to be a huge hit.

  • In reply to The 'Murican
    Bankn's picture

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