I was as surprised as everyone else when GigaOM suddenly shut down, but when you look behind the curtain, the signs were there, and it looks to be more about management struggles and the challenge of scaling to keep your VC funders happy than about the business or the industry it was in itself. I always worry when I see companies jumping into “research” as a financial model, because to me, that indicates their existing models aren’t and they’re trying to find a quick fix repurposing content using different terms. Unfortunately, in the case of GigaOM, the “research” part couldn’t get the traction it needed and pulled the journalism part down with it.
With Apple’s latest event, we know pricing and timing for delivery of the watches. The commentary has shifted from speculation about what we don’t know into punditry about what we think we do.
My view? I think most of the commentary on the watch is guessing, and much of it wrong-headed, because we don’t know what the watch will really be useful for yet. Anyone who sees it as a watch and comments on its as such is an idiot and will be proven one, as this is really a thing that sits on the wrist and does notifications and other things TBD and happens to tell time as well. it’s those things TBD that I find fascinating and will define the success of the watch and they won’t appear until people start really using it.
I expect to buy one, probably a sport with the addition of a Milanese Loop band for fancier settings. I’m a former watch fan, having at various times worn both wrist and pocket watches (including a mickey mouse pocket watch, because I could), and in my drawer is a dusty Festina that I stopped wearing years ago when the phone took over time duty. I expect my primary use will be for fitness and walking, taking over for my fitbit (wherever it is…), since I’ve found I tend not to carry my phone constantly around the house and so my numbers aren’t accurate — but I will, I think, wear the watch.
There are two issues I think need to be called out here:
First, I think people who are thinking of the watch as having the same upgrade cycle as a phone or an iPad are looking at it wrong. The vast majority of the “guts” of the watch are in fact in the phone, and the watch is basically a remote display. That limits the need for ram or CPU upgrades in phone, and I expect even first gen watches will be “good enough” for a number of years because of this. They don’t NEED to be upgraded, they’ll just need new batteries once in a while, just like all good non-hand-wound-watches.
Second, I worry that we’re creating the next big wave of robberies. Remember that phones (those $600 computers in your pocket) became a huge theft problem in urban areas to the point companies were forced to build kill switches into them, which has seriously dampened the theft problem. Now we’re going to be putting $500 devices on our wrists instead, and those devices don’t have kill switches in them — and forever god, why not? So now expect people to start getting their watches taken by force the way phones were, since repurposing them is as simple as re-pairing…
And as far as I can tell, nobody’s called Apple on this for not making these hard to steal? Why not?