Apple's new smartwatch will be the company's first entry in a new product category since the launch of the iPad in 2010. Five years later, the iPad and iPhone are definite successes, generating $30 billion and $100 billion in revenue in fiscal 2014, respectively.
For a company that's generating more than $180 billion in annual sales, it's unlikely that the Apple Watch will do too much to pad Apple's bottom line. As venture capitalist Fred Wilson said last week, the Apple Watch will not be a smash hit like the iPod (which paved the way for Apple's ridiculously successful iDevice strategy), the iPhone ($366 billion in total sales), or the iPad ($120 billion, which is nothing to scoff at).
Instead, it will sell well to current (and new) iPhone owners, especially those who are especially interested in fitness. But, like with the original iPhone, the real value of the Apple Watch will come once developers embrace it and begin developing apps.
I don't expect the full potential of the Watch to show up for a few years, at least. Developers are still coming up with new and amazing ways to take advantage of the iPhone and iPad, and they've both been out for the better part of the decade.
With the Apple Watch expected to be released sometime in the first quarter of 2015 — great timing, as my wife's birthday is in mid-March — I'm a bit torn about the device. It will be great for my wife, replacing the Fitbit Charge on her wrist, but for me, it's not so simple.
A decade ago, when my grandmother passed away, I received a modest inheritance. I wanted to spend some it on something nice that would remind me of my grandparents whenever I looked at it. I figured they would approve of that more than going to Vegas and putting it all on red. So, I went to a local watch store and picked out a wonderful Omega Seamaster Chronograph.
I've worn it on my wrist ever since, and it still makes me smile and think of my grandparents whenever I look at it. However, what do I do with this timepiece when the Apple Watch comes out? It's far more expensive than the $350 Apple Watch Sport that I would likely buy. Indeed, the cleaning and servicing that my Omega needs sometime this year will cost somewhere north of $600, which is more than the Apple Watch itself!
On a practical level, the Seamaster doesn't do anything particularly special. It tells the time, sure, and it acts as a stopwatch. It's also waterproof, something that the Apple Watch is not, and it never needs charging thanks to its automatic movement. But the Apple Watch will be able to display email and text messages and a huge variety of useful apps! So, why the conflict?
Obviously, the Seamaster has a lot of sentimental value, but more than that is the sheer engineering behind the thing. The complexity and number of moving parts inside a modern luxury timepiece is simply astounding.
In this video, a watchmaker disassembles and cleans the Rolex Submariner, a similar watch to my Seamaster. The internals of the thing are simply astounding, and an engineering marvel:
I love having it on my wrist and knowing the decades of experience and design that some Swiss gentlemen have put into it. However, I also love the idea of a smart watch that integrates with my phone and can display my email, text messages, and all manner of other things.
Luckily, I have three months to decide what to do. Perhaps one on each wrist?
Are you a watch lover? Will you be picking up the Apple Watch? Let us know in the comments below.
Jordan Golson is an Apple Columnist for TechRepublic. He also writes about technology and automobiles for WIRED and MacRumors. He has worked for Apple Retail twice and has been writing about technology since 2007.