It has been three weeks since the announcement of the Watch and if anything my thoughts have grown more confused. The two perspectives that interest me are is it just going to be some semi interesting accessory, or if it is going to be a significantly important computing platform. Put another way is the Watch going to be in the same category as say the Apple Cinema Display, or will for some of us it be replacing our iPhones?
Back in 2000 the design department I worked in purchased a Creative Nomad Jukebox. It was an early MP3 player with a reasonable sized hard-disk in it. It was horrific to use even for a nerd. But having instant access to thousands of songs was clearly amazing. When in 2001 the iPod launched it was obvious how useful this was. Apple had taken the wonder of having your whole music collection with you and not just made it a joy to use, but packaged it up into a fashionable and desirable device.
My entire career has been spent working on touchscreen based smartphones. They were often difficult to use, even for nerds. But the potential was there. We were all staring into our phones and ignoring friends and family long before it became the norm. ON touching an iPhone in 2007 it was again obvious how great this was. Back then there was no app store, but it didn't matter because the web browser alone was AMAZING. You could blog for weeks just on aspects of the iPhone that changed the game and unlocked all the potential compared to any product before it.
My own pattern for trying to understand new products has followed this. There is an area with great potential, but the current products suck. Then you get a new product and you can see the potential in that area has been unlocked. But with the Watch I just don't see that. I have tried various smart watches and never found anything interesting. They have been horrific in design and use, but without the hint of being an important device. Sure some of the fitness applications are interesting, but this is a micro niche.
Part of me is impressed that Apple have entered an area this early. No one has made it obvious what the potential to be unlocked is. But when I hear talk about this being a big platform. That this could cannibalise iPhone sales I feel lost. I don't know what I am missing here because all I see is something that can complement a product such as the iPhone. What am I missing?