iPhone Life Magazine - - Istats - BY JIM KARPEN

With the un­veil­ing of the Ap­ple Watch last fall, Ap­ple launched a new prod­uct cat­e­gory for the first time since Tim Cook be­came CEO.

The im­pli­ca­tions of the Ap­ple Watch re­lease are huge for both Ap­ple and its CEO, giv­ing rise to a host of ques­tions. Will the Ap­ple Watch sell? Can Cook repli­cate the late Steve Jobs's ge­nius and add an­other hit prod­uct to the string of suc­cesses that be­gan with the iPod in 2001? Does Cook have what it takes to keep Ap­ple on top?


More than any­one else, Wall Street mar­ket an­a­lysts want to know the an­swers to th­ese ques­tions. Over­all, they're pre­dict­ing healthy sales, with some es­ti­mat­ing Ap­ple will sell around 20 mil­lion watches in 2015 and oth­ers say­ing 30 mil­lion or more.

Ac­cord­ing to a sur­vey con­ducted by in­vest­ment firm Piper Jaf­fray, 7 per­cent of iPhone own­ers plan to buy an Ap­ple Watch. That may not sound like a lot, but con­sid­er­ing Ap­ple has sold well over 450 mil­lion iPhones world­wide in the past three years, that would equate to over 30 mil­lion watches—an amount con­sid­er­ably higher than the num­ber of iPhones and iPads sold in their first years. What's more, in the first half of 2014 the to­tal num­ber of all smart­watches sold was 7 mil­lion. That means that if Ap­ple could pull off sell­ing 30 mil­lion in less than a year, their sales would be more than dou­ble that of all other smart­watches com­bined.

With num­bers like th­ese, con­sumers cer­tainly have high ex­pec­ta­tions of Ap­ple. Last De­cem­ber, Time mag­a­zine named Ap­ple Watch as the top gad­get of 2014, even though it wasn't avail­able for pur­chase yet. If for some rea­son sales are medi­ocre, Ap­ple's stock will likely take a big hit, and the com­pany's im­age will be tar­nished.


Not only is the Ap­ple Watch a foray into a new prod­uct cat­e­gory, it's also a new leap into the fash­ion world. Late last year, ru­mor had it that Ap­ple was plan­ning to hire fash­ion ex­perts for its re­tail stores to as­sist cus­tomers as they try on var­i­ous bands and styles. And if you re­call, in 2013 Ap­ple hired An­gela Ahrendts, CEO of Burberry, as its head of re­tail, and Paul Den­eve, the for­mer CEO of the Yves Saint Lau­rent brand, as vice pres­i­dent of spe­cial projects. In ad­di­tion, Ap­ple is also ru­mored to re­lease an 18-karat gold Ap­ple Watch Edi­tion, priced in the range of $5,000.

Ap­ple's de­vices have al­ways been fash­ion­able, but they were gad­gets first and fore­most. In this case, the bal­ance is shift­ing from util­ity to style.



New de­tails about the Ap­ple Watch emerged when Ap­ple re­leased the WatchKit tools so de­vel­op­ers could make apps for the new de­vice. Dur­ing its Septem­ber pre­sen­ta­tion, Ap­ple had al­ready de­scribed many of the watch's fea­tures; how­ever, the man­ual for de­vel­op­ers gave more depth, re­veal­ing both the watch's strengths and its weak­nesses.

The most in­ter­est­ing de­tail may be the way in which the Ap­ple Watch will re­quire an iPhone to func­tion—at least ini­tially. When the Ap­ple Watch dis­plays in­for­ma­tion, the pro­cess­ing of that in­for­ma­tion ac­tu­ally takes place on one's iPhone and is then pushed to the Ap­ple Watch.

At first, the Ap­ple Watch will have only three stand­alone apps: Dates, Times, and Timers. That means if you don't have your iPhone with you, you'll still be able to use your Ap­ple Watch as a watch, but noth­ing else. Thank­fully, this doesn't seem to be a per­ma­nent prob­lem, as Ap­ple did say that fully na­tive apps would ar­rive later this year.


An­other in­ter­est­ing de­tail is that WatchKit of­fers de­vel­op­ers two main op­tions for com­mu­ni­cat­ing with the user: Glances and ac­tion­able no­ti­fi­ca­tions. A Glance is a non-in­ter­ac­tive “tem­plate-based no­ti­fi­ca­tion” on the watch dis­play sent via an app on one's iPhone, such as a weather app.

Ac­tion­able no­ti­fi­ca­tions, on the other hand, present in­for­ma­tion on the screen that you can re­spond to, a fea­ture that's ba­si­cally an ex­ten­sion of iPhone no­ti­fi­ca­tions. For ex­am­ple, the Amer­i­can Air­lines app will use ac­tion­able no­ti­fi­ca­tions to re­mind you when it's time to go to the air­port, as well as to up­date you on gate changes, your con­nect­ing gate, and board­ing times. Plus, it will give real-time lo­ca­tion in­for­ma­tion while you're in the air via Glances.

Ap­ple Watch will also dis­tin­guish be­tween “short look” and “long look” no­ti­fi­ca­tions. If it senses that you're just glanc­ing at your watch, you'll get a sin­gle mes­sage, such as “Your plane is board­ing now.” But if you keep look­ing at the no­ti­fi­ca­tion, more in­for­ma­tion ap­pears—in this case, the flight num­ber, board­ing time, and gate num­ber.

Dur­ing the long look, the icon for the app and the orig­i­nal no­ti­fi­ca­tion get smaller and move to the top of the screen to make room for the ad­di­tional de­tail. You can then scroll through the ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion and per­form ac­tions such as com­ment­ing, fa­vorit­ing, or dis­miss­ing.


Ap­ple's WatchKit soft­ware for de­vel­op­ers re­vealed that many of the Ap­ple Watch's fea­tures won't be avail­able to de­vel­op­ers—in­clud­ing the heart rate mon­i­tor; the near field com­mu­ni­ca­tion (NFC) chip; the Tap­tic En­gine fea­ture; and even the dig­i­tal crown, which is used to zoom and scroll Ap­ple apps and to re­turn to the Home screen.

To top it off, the de­vice's mi­cro­phone will only be us­able by de­vel­op­ers for dic­tat­ing text, and there will be no cus­tom alerts avail­able. You can use the Ap­ple Watch to con­trol the iPhone's Cam­era app, but not other cam­era apps. And to begin with, only Ap­ple will be of­fer­ing watch faces. De­vel­op­ers won't be able to of­fer their own cus­tom faces, nor will they have the op­tion of of­fer­ing in-app pur­chases.

The use of ges­tures on the Ap­ple Watch will also be much more limited than on other iOS de­vices. They will re­port­edly be limited to ver­ti­cal swipes to scroll through the screen, hor­i­zon­tal swipes to go be­tween pages, tap­ping to se­lect, and the “force touch,” which opens a con­tex­tual menu. There's also an “edge swipe” that goes back to the pre­vi­ous screen and an­other edge swipe that opens the glance view.


De­spite the Ap­ple Watch's lim­i­ta­tions, I think it's likely that many of its fea­tures will even­tu­ally be ac­ces­si­ble to de­vel­op­ers. For now, Ap­ple ap­pears to want to keep things sim­ple and uni­form to en­sure that the Ap­ple Watch gets off to a strong start. As al­ways, the com­pany has given a con­sid­er­able amount of at­ten­tion to ev­ery tiny de­tail. And that's ex­actly why peo­ple love Ap­ple's gad­gets so much. I think Ap­ple has a win­ner. Jim Karpen, Ph.D, is on fac­ulty at Ma­har­ishi Uni­ver­sity of Man­age­ment in Fair­field, IA. He has been writ­ing about the rev­o­lu­tion­ary con­se­quences of com­puter tech­nol­ogy since 1994. His Ph.D dis­ser­ta­tion an­tic­i­pated the In­ter­net revo­lu­tion. His site,, con­tains se­lected regular col­umns writ­ten for The Iowa Source. jim_karpen@

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