A CMO’s Reflections On Apple Watch

By | Wednesday March 11th, 2015

AplWatch-ClockSimple-PR-PRINT apple watchI can’t believe it’s already been five years since I wrote about the iPad’s potential to transform marketing. Is the Apple Watch that same kind of disruptive technology?

On the one hand, the Apple Watch is:

  • Intimate. Apple says its new watch is the company’s “most personal device yet.” It’s highly customizable and enables users to “easily access information that matters, to interact with the world, and to live a better day by being more aware of their daily activity than ever before,” according to Tim Cook, Apple’s CEO. This is one more example of how today’s consumers crave more intimate, individualized attention. They want relevant interactions. And they’re beginning to understand the value of their data, which is the fuel that generates those types of intelligent insights. Consumers are increasingly willing to provide personal data in exchange for an improved engagement and/or experience.
  • Groundbreaking. Apple Watch allows users to interact with the world via a new generation of experiences designed specifically for the wrist. The device boasts innovative ways to scroll, zoom and navigate, a new Retina® display that senses the difference between a tap and a press, and the particularly intriguing new Taptic Engine™, which delivers a tap on your wrist (customizable, of course) whenever you receive a notification or message.
  • Wearable. Wearable technology has been on my radar for some time. Why? Because a device like the Apple Watch isn’t just another screen in a consumer’s life; it’s a screen that people will connect with themselves. The question marketers need to grapple with is this: How can companies combine data driven marketing and wearable technology to improve the customer experience? (Check out my ideas in this earlier post.)
  • Part of the Internet of Things (IoT). No surprise that Apple is at the forefront, but keep in mind: We’re only beginning to scratch the surface of the tremendous potential for the Internet of Things. The entire movement is focused on making lives better and easier by using insights from data to drive purposeful action. The key is to seamlessly blend technology, things and people to create meaningful interactions.

But success is not guaranteed. The Apple Watch may face an uphill battle when it comes to:

  • Usability. Tech writers are already calling the design “confusing,” “clumsy” and “fussy.” Granted, I’ve found that when it comes to screen size or operating systems, there is no one-size-that-fits-all. (See point about the growing importance of individualization above.) However, does the fact that the Apple Watch has more than 2 million (!) settings for the actual clock make it easier, or more difficult, to use?
  • Adoption. Are consumers reaching a device saturation point? Only time will tell. If Apple Watch’s capabilities aren’t distinctly different from those of the iPhone, consumers may decide that it’s not worthwhile to own them both.
  • Trust. As I’ve already mentioned, there is vast opportunity within these changing dynamics of human interaction. But before any of those opportunities can be realized there has to be trust – trust between consumers and the companies they are sharing data with. Companies need to learn to build smart interactions that empower the consumer to connect, while minimizing the inconvenience and effort required to transact, communicate or enjoy products, services and brands.

I could keep going and debate the merits of Apple Watch features like Apple Pay, the health and fitness apps, Siri, texting, etc., but that conversation will be more productive after I’ve tried one myself. Until then, here’s a good article that summarizes “everything you need to know,” and please, let me know what you think. Do you consider the Apple Watch disruptive technology? From what you’ve heard so far, does it have the potential to transform your personal life, your professional life and/or your marketing campaigns?

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