Sunday, 22 June 2014

iWatch: It's a design dilemma

Rumours of Apple's iWatch are continuing to circulate and gain a lot of momentum. The latest reports are that there will be up to 20 different available designs for consumers and a whole host of sensors tracking your every move. In all reality, reports on Apple device releases are usually well off the mark. Remember how the iPhone 5 was due to have an inbuilt keyboard projector? Yeh - you get the gist.

I think we're all in agreement that Apple will produce an iWatch, but 20 designs? Samsung? Yes. Apple? No. That would represent a giant shift in Apple's approach to the production of consumer devices. Up until now, Apple have been steadfast in producing one design for the iPhone, one design for iPod etc upon each release. Would they really change that?

Let's assume there is the one iWatch. How do Apple approach it? So far, we've seen two companies get it right, Pebble and Motorola. Both companies have prioritised design, and this will help significantly in their attempts to penetrate the market. Motorola in particular are pushing the boundaries of design by opening up the look of the Moto 360 to the public via a competition. A couple of the best entries are below - but they range from classic to zany. With few exceptions, they all look very good.

Samsung have been a major letdown. I praised their work with the Galaxy Gear first edition because they were trying something different and pushing boundaries. After the experiment they should have learnt from it and adapted, however they appeared to have already started developing the Gear 2 without learning from consumers. The poor sales were not just because of the technology and capability, more important was the design and price.
     Pebble were far more intelligent. They looked at the product and gained feedback before designing the Pebble Steel - and look at the results! They've now produced a watch that people would buy - regardless of the smart capabilities!

With this precedent, what will Apple do? The concepts to this point have headed in the futuristic direction, which makes sense with Apple's traditional style, minimalist and glossy. The Apple direction certainly doesn't shout leather strap. This example is far closer to what I'd anticipate from Apple, without a dramatic shift in the company outlook.

If this is how Apple are to approach it, they are making a major mistake - and following Samsung and LG into a tech (not consumer-led) direction. If smartwatches are to become a part of our everyday lives, then manufacturers need to conquer the most important aspect of a watch - it's appearance. It's a accessory, and an accessory must look good. The tech is secondary (however difficult that is for me to say).

Used a smartwatch? What're your thoughts on them and what's on offer?

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