Can you name the best selling smartwatch? Apple was late to the wearables party but now seems to dominate with Watch. Just imagine how many more Watches Apple could sell if only it was not strapped to iPhone.
In the U.S., iPhone represents about 45-percent marketshare, but worldwide, far less. That tells me that a Watch set free from the constraints of being tethered to the iPhone would be an even bigger and better best seller.
What does Apple need to do to set Watch free?
The steps may already have begun. watchOS 6, due about when Watch Series 5 ships– how did the numbering scheme get so messed up— has support for buying applications via a Watch App Store. For now, Watch remains tied to iPhone. You don’t need an iPhone to get out and about with an LTE Watch, but iPhone is required to set up Watch the first time.
What does Apple need to do?
First, Apple could go the route of iTunes for Windows with a standalone Android app that sets up a new Watch the way it works now on iPhone. That makes sense but it is yet set of apps for Apple to develop and manage.
Second, Apple could expand watchOS to include a full setup app which does not require an iPhone Watch app. While that sounds simple enough, Watch does not have the screen real estate of iPhone, and already iPhone’s Watch app is complicated for the average user and takes time and effort to master all the settings.
Apple has a reputation for revolutionary innovation, but actually devotes mores effort and patience to iterative innovations and that means a step-by-step approach to make Watch completely standalone and not dependent upon iPhone or Android smartphone app may make even more sense long term.
Imagine the scenario.
You’re an Android smartphone user, but you drop by the Apple Store, buy Apple Watch, and associates help set it up for you right there, on the spot, no iPhone required. Or, if Apple goes the route of an Android app to manage Watch, they help you set up the app, too.
Not quite. A big part of the Watch experience is a combination of built-in applications that sync and play nice-nice with iPhone. Messages, Calendar, Contacts, Mail, Reminders, and so on. How will those work for Android smartphone owners and Windows PC customers.
That’s three different technology platforms trying to maintain a cohesive lifestyle. Things just became more complicated.
Apple Watch not tethered to an application on iPhone or Android would be the objective because Apple’s overall marketshare presence is nominal, but Watch not tethered to any device would be agnostic. I don’t see Watch ever replacing iPhone, and I recognize that Apple is a hardware company that wants the customer base to invest in ever more hardware solutions, but a Watch not dependent upon additional Apple hardware becomes much like iPhone that lives by itself entirely.
Apple, it’s time to set Watch free.