There is plenty of noise about an upcoming rumored iWatch, thought I’ll add my own predictions and wish list here This was prompted by the article on ReadWrite. I tend to agree on almost all points in the article, especially in the sense it is more of a fitness tracker device. My take is that it’ll have a bit less features than predicted and clamored for. Less is more, right?
Starting with the fitness tracker idea, how does one differentiate among the current set of fitness trackers? The whole fitness tracker market reminds me of the good old mp3 players. There were several mp3 players very much capable of playing the music, and then came the iPod. I believe there is certainly plenty of room to create such a new market.
I personally have been trying the Fitibit for a week now – Fitbit apparently according to all the tech review sites is the best fitness tracker out there today. Even then, it comes up a bit short in the overall experience. Fitbit and Up comes up to the top of the current generation products and the corresponding dashboards do make up a decent offering. In my experience, while it certainly appeases to a fitness minded person, it is not compelling enough for a discerned user, forget the mass market.
The current set of products also looks awfully geeky – attracting unwanted attention in the case of bands with display or no attention at all like a silly wrist-band. If it is meant to be a personal product, like the iPhone or the iPod, it better look strikingly stylish. From several reviews, it seems it is not that hard to loose a Fitbit, the iWatch better be safe. So from a form perspective, you want the tracker to be safe, comfortable and did I say stylish. In other words, a traditional watch definitely fits the form factor.
So is there any watch-form-fitness tracker? I am aware of Suunto, who makes possibly the high end of the fitness tracking watch market possibly – extremely capable devices. Even though the Suunto has got the form factor quite right, it still looks geeky and meant for ironmans. As quoted here, a watch is perhaps the highest expression of fusion of technology and art. So why cant a modern fitness tracker look like an Omega Speedmaster or Tag Heuer ?
Now, for the features… An earlier post here by Sukumar and the comments has a holy grail of all the features. I personally think it is a bit too much. Even the Read-Write article is asking for a little more features.
As long as the device can track the same metrics that Fitbit or Up does today – number of steps, distance, heart rate, steps climbed, active minutes, calories burned, sleep tracking etc it is a very good start. Maybe it can get a bit ‘medical’ by monitoring heart rate and watching for any critical conditions and alerting the nearby phone. Display? Nothing additional – the watch is a good enough display. Am going to borrow from here to repeat that the best UI is no UI. So, at the maximum, a beep for emergency and Vibrate for alarms and nudges. Yes, simple nudges to get moving or go to sleep or stop panicking etc.
And when (and if) such a product come out, folks will cry that you can’t check your email on it OR you cant send a tweet OR this or that.. The consumer will see the value easily and a brand new market will be born. If you are with me so far, its an easy guess on which company is best poised to bring out such a device. And if this happens, the positioning will not be against Samsung Gear or Toq. The Fitbits and Ups will fall by the wayside like the iRiver and countless other mp3 players, But it will be it will be the Omega’s and Timex’s who can get caught off-guard just like the record labels.
PS: Have to give my 2c to Mr Nadella right? This is also an equal opportunity for MS to swing back and gain some much needed consumer mindshare. Gates’ vision was to put a computer on every desk. The new vision could very well be to put an MSTracker on every wrist. Partner with say Swatch and get a new wrist-computer that is every bit stylish and does a very limited set of fitness features really really well. Offer a dashboard associated with it that can be used even without a Live-ID and works on every browser, every device. Brand it after the XBox – like call it the XWatch or the yWatch? why not?
And if this HCM trend is anything to go by, this is a sure bet to be inside the enterprise. (As long as it doesn’t run Windows
One More Thing… When the iPhone was released, the Camera was almost an auxiliary function. But since then, the camera has improved dramatically in every iteration and it has almost unanimously killed the point & shoot camera. So, what could be the killer auxiliary feature for an iWatch? With the iBeacon, two ideas come to my mind
- Security. Can it replace car-keys and access cards? Could just walk to the car/door and open it ‘automagically’
- Payment. How cool it would be if we can ‘shake’ hands with the merchant (thereby making the payment) and walk away with the purchase? No UI, no signing, no paper exchange.
What else would an iWatch do? Would love to hear your ideas. Whatever the features are, who ever gets this one right will be positioned to take full advantage of the Internet of Things.