I’m stuck in a mild quandary about whether to bother writing about the Apple Watch or not…

If you care enough about Apple’s entry into the world of wearable technology then you would’ve surely been glued to your MacBook or iPad Mini last night. Poring over the details delivered via keynote speech and already fully sated with every possible specification of the Apple Watch (emphatically no longer referred to as the ‘iWatch’).

Or if you’re everyone else in the world, your reaction is probably more along the lines of this…

I would be lying if I didn’t agree. 

However as a writer for a popular digital marketing blog (this one, just in case that wasn’t clear) I have a responsibility to seek out a balanced truth on the usability and marketing capabilities of all possible platforms and technologies that may come our way. Even a solid gold watch.

So here’s a brief overview of the Apple Watch, the marketing opportunities that present themselves on the device and whether they sound like a stupid idea or not.

Apple Watch: the stuff you need to know

  • It’s out next month on April 24. Preorders are being taken from April 10. Orderly queues have already begun forming, so shut down your computer, leave work immediately and head to your nearest Apple Store right now. Don’t worry about your children, they can feed themselves.
  • It will come in three different styles, priced as follows: the standard Apple Watch starting at $549, the Apple Watch Sport starting at $349 and the Apple Watch Edition starting at… you’d better sit down for this… and put your hot drink down too… $10,000. 
  • The Apple Watch Edition is made from 18-karat gold and should be able to fire lasers, silence all car alarms in a 10-mile radius and control the mind of any pet or teenager in your own home for the price. 
  • The Apple Watch will of course be synched to your iPhone, therefore it will show call alerts, emails, Facebook updates, tweets… basically any notification you receive on your iPhone.
  • Oh yeah… you need an iPhone in order to use Apple Watch.
  • You’ll be able to control your music through the Apple Watch. Siri is on hand to help you with any basic needs (“where the hell did I leave my phone?”) and there are a plethora of fitness and workout monitors to feed your increasing health anxiety. 
  • Third party apps are available and have been in development since last November. These include Uber, Instagram, Shazam and CityMapper.
  • The Apple Watch doesn’t utilise touch-screen technology for general navigation, as of course the display will be entirely obscured by our big fat fingers, instead it’s all done using the ‘Digital Crown’ on the side allowing you to scroll, zoom and navigate.
  • Apple Pay will be available for instant payments. You don’t need to tap it, just hold your wrist near a reader. Careful now, you just bought me a coffee.
  • It’s not terribly waterproof.
  • It tells the time.

Marketing opportunities

As long as there’s a screen, there’ll be a way to serve you an advert on it.

The Apple Watch will have full iBeacon capability, so you can be sure that when you walk into an Apple store wearing the watch you’ll be greeted with all kinds of notifications and marketing messages. 

This won’t just happen in Apple stores though. According to AdWeek US supermarket chain Marsh has installed iBeacons in all of its 75 stores, so that when anyone wearing an Apple Watch enters the store, they will be sent beacon-triggered reminders.  These can range from discount offers, special deals, to opening shopping lists or wishlists installed on your watch.

So, this brings us to the ultimate question…

Marketing on the Apple Watch: terrible idea?

I’ve yet to be thoroughly convinced about the importance of wearable tech in our everyday lives. I think it’s far more niche than developers and marketers would have us believe.

However the application of wearable technology in the world of health and fitness is huge and is genuinely making a massive difference to the lives of a wide range of people. From athletes needing a convenient and accurate way to store data to regular people who just want to improve their everyday fitness with a pedometer. 

Outside of this though there is very little to convince me that the Apple Watch is little more than a device for people who are too lazy to take their phone out of their pocket when they receive an alert.  

There’s nothing that can be done on the watch that can’t be done on an iPhone. The difference is that on an Apple Watch it will be much smaller. Is anyone really going to look at Instagram on a 38mm screen?

As for advertising on the Apple Watch, imagine how irritating it would be if the basic function of a watch, showing you the time, is obscured by an ad too tiny to read.

That’s probably an extreme example, as the Apple Watch is notification-based and hopefully marketers have learnt from experience that an ad format served successfully on one device will not necessarily work just as well on a different one.

On a smartphone, marketers use notifications to advertise. These notifications only occur of course if the user has the specific app downloaded. If the notifications are too intrusive or frequent, the user will delete the app. 

Now translate that to a screen which is 81mm smaller and that you carry on your wrist all day long.

I’ll keep my old Casio thanks. It’s got a calculator on it.

For more on Apple from the blog, read some semi-rational thoughts on Apple, U2 and nefarious marketing practices.