In defense of the Apple iWatch

Despite critics' frustration with Apple, the iWatch isn't the worst thing the company could be developing now.

By Mar 13, 2013 5:41PM
"For better or worse, Apple (AAPL) has painted itself into a corner."

It was nearly two years ago when I wrote those words in a piece for Minyanville called What Will Be Apple's Next Big Thing?  I described how the releases of the iPod, iPhone, and iPad -- as well as the MacBook line and, to a lesser extent, the Apple TV -- have limited Cupertino's avenues for innovation. Although a credit to the overwhelming versatility to Apple's line of products, it's difficult for the company to develop and release a brand new product with similar groundbreaking features and promise.

Unfortunately, we're starting to see the fruits of Apple's complacency since then.
As the company began to rest on the laurels of the admittedly leafy iPhone and iPad, other companies like Google (GOOG) and Samsung (SSNLF) scrambled to out-innovate what was once the market leader in a bright, new future.  And now, with a depleted stock and a mobile line that's looked stale for a while, Apple is no longer the go-to name for innovation. In the last two years, there have been a few updates and iterations of its existing products, but it really hasn't released anything earth-shattering.

Apple has left that to Google.

Between Google Now, Google Glass, rescuing iPhone users from Apple Maps, and countless whiz-bang features of the latest versions of Android, Google has critics and consumers looking six miles north of Cupertino for the next big thing.

But, ironically, it's the innovation that Google and Samsung have been championing that showcases the stuff Apple should and could be doing. After all, Apple is nothing if not open to inspiration." And what Google Glass could mean for technology's future, the proposed Apple iWatch is a step in that direction.

The only thing is, for many, it's blatantly a baby step.

This week, Forbes contributor Haydn Shaughnessy lashed out at the Apple iWatch, dubbing it, "The Distraction That Will Drive Apple's Stock Down." Shaughnessy called it a "low-value, insignificant project" that a "start-up (like Pebble) could have thrown up onto a crowdfunding site."

He may be right about that, but Apple desperately needs to be innovating and an iWatch isn't the worst place to start.

Take a look at Google Glass, and given the mouth-watering promise the product has, you probably have. Already, it's the star of SXSW, the subject of many a glowing review, and the quintessential example of how wearable technology can change the game -- all months before it's in the hands of the public. Granted, we may be on the precipice of a Segway-level flop, but the world already had small, personal transports. We really don't have heads-up displays connected to the complete history of human knowledge. And honestly, folks are much more willing to look like Star Trek's Geordi La Forge than a dork on a giant scooter.

Even if neither of Google's add-ons for the head or feet (the company just announced a smart sneaker project) is a runaway success, that will certainly not impede the future of wearable technology. And who might be able to step up in that arena if Google is unable to lead? Perhaps one with a small project which tested the waters and paved the way for something much, much greater?

I'll give you a hint: It's only been two years since it was considered such a leader.

No, the Apple iWatch hasn't blown people away like Google Glass. Yes, Apple needs to debut something bigger for it to recapture its status as a leader in innovation. But it's something new. It's something different. And it's a product within a technology rife with promise and feature-rich development.

The Apple iWatch shouldn't be a discouragement for the company to branch out from middling updates to the iPhone, especially into a field where many, many others will enter soon. I just hope that it's not the only field Apple has in its immediate radar.

May I suggest home automation?

More from Minyanvile

Mar 14, 2013 1:10AM
Next big thing? How about three ecosystems, like Ford, GM and Chrysler, for technology each with 2 billion consumer devices from Apple, Google and Microsoft.  So Apple now has 200 million, Google has 800 million and Microsoft has 1 billion. The real issue is who will make the most off of getting to 2 billion users and staying there? I'd say Apple makes the most, Microsoft's second and Google (Samsung and clan) come in a distant third. Who makes the most off of supplying the enterprise ecosystems for those 6 billion consumers and works? IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP. Who make the least off of software but the most of of advertising spam? Hands down Google unless we click it off.
Mar 13, 2013 6:20PM

Re: Innovation from Google and Samsung....Samsung has grown to largest supplier becasue of cheap phone prices in the developing far as outdoing apple they haven't is a bigger screen innovation? wha? that's product differentiation NOT innovation. Given the number of i4's sold I would say it shows bigger screen size is not viewed as an automatic must have but, there are people who want it. Maybe apple should offer a bigger screen maybe they shouldn't that's more about marketing not innovation.

    Other than that, any differentiator or innovation for Samsung has to come from the android side.  Seems Google has been doing nothing but trying to morf  that has worked so well for apple. Tablets, stores (at least announced)  phones, eco sysem, cloud, apps and OS thats IMITATION not innovation.  You can't name any specific innovative thing other than a catchall of 

"whiz bang features" are you kidding?

Re google glass: some will want it no doubt, I'll wager it will NOT go mainstream, and you have not seen or worn it so how can you possibly hold this up as innovative when it isn't even available yet? If apple leaked out all the projects they are considering would they then seem innovative?   Apple is not gonna broadcast what's up there sleeve, why tip your hat to competitiors? 

I'll bet the i watch or what ever whereable may or may not be lurking will have features you cannot possibly have knowlege of so to critique seems baseless.

We shall see what happens there is a 3 to 5 year window for new products and we are just coming into that time frame. 

Mar 13, 2013 8:40PM
I have a mywatch and I'm not paying 1000X more for an iwatch.
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