With anticipation high, consumers greeted the introduction of the Apple Watch. Technology has permeated virtually every aspect of modern life, revolutionizing communication, function and the speed of information access. Now it has taken on fashion. Fashion historically is among the most competitive industries in the world with a penchant for drama and a short attention span. The accessories component of this category of consumer goods is sitting up and noting the impact of smart wearables on the watch market.
Though being a fashion statement is not where Apple Watch scores highest, the traditional timepiece, jewelry and wearables industry will be gauging its potential impact on their sales. Apple is not the only game in town. Fossil, reporting sales of 30 million traditional watches annually, is partnering with Google and Intel to produce smart wearables with HTC. Traditional luxury timepiece consumers will not be swayed by either the watch’s sleek design or price tag. Their interest is likely to be in the gadgetry. The exterior presentation evokes wristwatch design, but avoids the trendy accessorizing of more colorful watches. This may not appeal to the consumer who is more immersed in fashion than technology. That said, the navigation buttons are colorful and the clock screen can be customized and changed to suit the owner’s personality and tastes. Apple Watch has a band that will adjust to wrist size, unlike some competitors. Smartphones have made significant inroads in the obsolescence of digital and analog watch sales, creating pressure on these sales. Spending has been moving away from apparel toward technology. Accessory companies are reinventing their offerings to compete.
Apple Watch reviews report that the app buttons work well and synching the Watch with iPhones and iPads is a smooth operation. Setting up the Watch is simple and user-friendly. The Apple Maps app will become a valuable navigation tool. A feature noted by many is the intimate and friendly notification taps on the wrist in place of the jarring whoopee cushion buzz that has become the accepted reminder tool. Siri proves to be a good travel companion. Speaking into the Watch, directions can be given, food ordered and paid for, and destination features revealed. The Watch will perform all kinds of tasks: dictate and send texts, see emails, answer phone calls, and give calendar alerts. These are a just the most basic functions that are expanded by a significant number of proprietary apps as well as third-party apps that can be downloaded.
Among Apple watch’s many abilities, the fitness and health monitoring and tracking features are creating buzz in both consumers and health-related industries. There are many fitness wearables with HTC that precede the Watch. These have come in the form of small digital counters that are strapped on while exercising, slim metabolism-sensitive wrist brands and bracelets, and other devices. The increasingly sophisticated analytics of wearables technology is disrupting and improving the benefits to the user. Fitness monitoring is big business and good for all businesses. Much research and marketing in the smart wearables market is being produced to showcase the positive relationship between employees’ fitness and improved productivity. This becomes a high-value improved bottom line. A company does not have to be in the wearables market to participate in the commercial benefit that these devices will bring to commerce. Salesforce Wear is a development platform that can be used to create business apps for existing fitness devices. Industry seers are predicting that smart wearables like the Apple Watch are replacing the smartphone and will have an equal, if not more profound impact on the way we live and work.