When the iPhone launched, Steve Jobs introduced it as being three products in one:

  • A wide-screen iPod
  • A phone
  • A breakthrough internet communicator

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When the Apple Watch launched, Tim Cook introduced it as being three things:

  • A precise timepiece
  • A new, intimate way to communicate
  • A comprehensive health and fitness device.

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As in the Revolutionary User Interface story,  the symmetry in approach to the launch is telling, but what I want to note is that the three things which the iPhone was defined as being are no longer things that it is most used for.

Yes, the iPhone is still a wide-screen iPod which gets plenty of use but I don’t think anyone thinks that is a defining feature. It’s also a phone, but the Phone is just an app which, for me at least, is not frequently used. I communicate with my iPhone but the go-to app is iMessage or FaceTime or Skype or maybe Email or Twitter. Phone is something I use so rarely that the interface sometimes baffles me. And yes, it’s an Internet appliance. Browsing is something I do quite a bit but many of the browsing jobs-to-be-done are done better by apps. News, shopping Facebook and maps are “things which were once done in a browser.”

So I wonder whether the tentpole product-defining anchors used to introduce the Apple Watch will be faintly amusing a few years from now.

Of course, the reason iPhone outgrew its tentpoles is because of the app economy. 1.3 million apps does that to a product. When it becomes a platform a product invites collaboration on the problem of innovation. Collaborative innovation explodes the opportunity to discover new needs and uses. How, when and why people use the product changes beyond anyone’s imagination.

But this does not mean that the tentpoles used at launch are in any way in error. They are necessary to explain the value of a new category. The audience can’t be told “wait and see all the cool stuff you’ll be able to do with it”. They need to be told why it’s useful today. They speak in the language the audience can understand today. Steve Jobs could not talk in the language of apps and services in 2007. The unforeseen became the inevitable.

Tentpoles therefore don’t define the product but do provide the starting blocks from which the initial buyers make a cognition leap. And once they’re off, the others will know where to go.




  • Walt French

    Exactly right. When I see somebody with earbuds, they’re more likely to be using an Android phone. The iPhone people are mostly engaged with what I tweeted as “Life-ipedia/YoNet,” pulling up info about their surroundings and touching base with their personal network.

    The iPhone is defined a bit by its interface, but primarily by its location: always in its owner’s pocket, or close at hand. The watch will be similarly be defined by being the optimal device for even-more-nearly-instaneous info/touch.

  • matthewwoo

    Agreed, the Apple Watch is essentially a unix computer on someone’s wrist, and the applications built on it will define the experience.

    One hunch is this new intimate taptic communication channel is going to drive some really interesting behaviors similar to what text did to calls.

    • Space Gorilla

      “the Apple Watch is essentially a unix computer”

      I’d say you nailed it. I was expecting a simpler sensory band device, but the Apple Watch has so much more capability/flexibility. We’re going to see tons of interesting uses popping up, and of course the same old crowd will keep blabbing about how useless the Apple Watch is.

      • tz

        Can’t wait to see how long it takes Sammy to copy the tap & press touch screen input, the physical appearance, and the haptic feedback features of the Apple Watch.
        Samsung, start your copiers.

  • Mark Tinsley

    Also Steve couldn’t talk about the value of the app store in 2007 because he was against launching it, until convinced otherwise 🙂

    • r.d

      Don’t be ridiculous.

      How could he talk about SDK when iphone was not even
      finished and only those developed it knew about it.

      Rest of Apple had to do the work to bring about AppStore
      and SDK.

      Bull Shit Myth just to disparage Steve Jobs.

      • Mark Tinsley

        “When it first came out in 2007, there were no apps you could buy from outside developers, and Jobs initially resisted allowing them. He didn’t want outsiders to create applications for the iPhone that could mess it up, infect it with viruses, or pollute its integrity”

        Walter Isaacson’s “Steve Jobs”, Oct 2011, Page: 501, Kindle Location: 8601

        Isaacson later goes on to state that this was a firmly held objection of Steve – Apple board member Art Levinson had to call Steve “half a dozen times” to lobby for allowing apps; there were at least four “freewheeling discussions” at board meetings; Steve “quashed” any discussion about apps, he “didn’t want to talk about it”, at least until after the launch of the iPhone, and so on.

        Now, there are plenty of things wrong with Isaacson’s biography of Jobs (too big a topic to go into now), so lets try another source, this time someone who worked on the original iPhone (and Pixo OS, which powered the iPod):

        “ANDY GRIGNON: We were getting the software stack together, and we realised, “Whoa, I could actually use this for a lot of shit. I could get directions on the road.” Remember, back in the days of Google Maps, you had to print them out. Steve had been absolutely against opening the App Store early on, because he didn’t want the phone to crash. You have to be able to call 911 on the phone anytime, so we couldn’t trust our operating system to a bunch of crazy stupid developers”

        Design Crazy, Max Chafkin, Sep 2013, Location: 791

        Steve was “absolutely against opening the App Store” (until convinced otherwise), exactly like I said.

      • Mark Jones

        Yes, in May, Steve was against apps because iPhone OS wast ready for apps, but he had also already authorized work on a secure and safe solution, which is what he said Apple was doing at All Things D. Clearly, in May, he was not yet convinced their was a secure solution, and you are right that he didn’t become convinced until sometime after the June launch.

      • Mark Tinsley


      • obarthelemy
    • Piotwit

      Well seems he was convinced otherwise sometime before the iPhone launch.

      Transcript of interview with Mossberg at D5 in May.

      “Walt: All indications appear that the iPhone is closed, we’d love to develop apps…”
      “Steve: This is an important tradeoff between security and openness. We want both. We’re working through a way… we’ll find a way to let 3rd parties write apps and still preserve security on the iPhone. But until we find that way we can’t compromise the security of the phone.”

      • Mark Tinsley

        At the time of All Things D, when referring to “apps”, Steve was still using that as shorthand for web apps and regular apps. Hard to know for sure what he was referring to (Mossberg did say “desktop apps” though).

        Clearly, by definition, he obviously was convinced sometime between the Jan 2007 Macworld announcement and the SDK announcement in 2008. Hard to say exactly when, but I do doubt it was before the phone launched in June. Isaacson quotes Phil Schiller saying Jobs “didn’t want to talk about” apps because he wanted “focus”. And once the iPhone was launched, he was “willing to hear the debate” (Page 501, Kindle: 8618).

        My bet is that Forstall and his team were working on an SDK in the background pretty much immediately after the phone launched (without Jobs explicit OK), and probably had some of the APIs ready to go before that (as Apple wanted to use them as well for internal development of their own apps). Nitin Ganatra (one of the first few engineers working on the iPhone) implies this sequence is correct on his recent appearances on the Debug podcast.

        Once the phone was shipped, Jobs allowed the discussion to take place, they hit on the App Store + approval process to maintain control, and Steve gave the OK (if I had to guess a date I’d say Aug/Sep 2007).

  • TechJunkie

    Apple watch has no GPS or 3G phone built-in. So, it cannot work standalone like Samsung Gear S can. That’s really a big difference. You need to charge and always carry two devices instead of just one.
    So, a small iPhone on your wrist could be more practical solution than a crippled watch after all.

    • Kirk Lennon

      “You need to charge and always carry two devices instead of just one.”

      You don’t need to *always* carry both. The Apple Watch can work independently during, say, a jog, where you might leave your phone behind. And even if you have a Gear S, you’re still going to have a phone. Surely nobody plans on using *only* a smartwatch and not having a phone at all?

      • TechJunkie

        Yes but unless you carry iPhone you won’t be connected. With Gear S the phone could be left home and still be connected. I think this is big difference. And the built-in GPS gives much better navigation.

      • Kirk Lennon

        If you’re going for more than a jog anywhere, you’re going to have your phone with you. I think you’re imagining scenarios that will almost never happen.

      • TechJunkie

        Go swimming for 1-2 hours. The iPhone is not waterproof but Watch could well be. Can’t you see the benefit of staying connected without your phone?

      • Kirk Lennon

        If your phone is within Bluetooth range of where you’re swimming, you could actually stay connected while in the pool. But how many people actually swim nonstop for two hours, and want a cellular connection during that time? Yet again, I think the scenario is contrived and not worth addressing. Smartwatches are certainly going to be niche for a while; there’s no need to get into even more limited use-cases. There are SERIOUS tradeoffs to putting a 3G radio in a watch, so its inclusion needs to be well justified. I don’t think it is. Maybe years down the road.

      • TechJunkie

        Usually the lockers are not within Bluetooth range. I just think the central point of having a smart watch is staying connected at all times, and certainly during sport activities.

      • JordanM

        If I am going for a two hour swim, I am fine being “off the grid”. Seriously, do I NEED to get email notifications while I swim? It can wait. I’m swimming!

      • tz

        Just how well is the Gear S selling?

      • Jeppe Prebensen

        At the moment I’m looking at the Watch like it’s just another iPhone accessory. A bloody impressive one, granted, and yet at this point the thing I’ll probably end up using it most for is notifications (do I ignore this email or dig out my mobile and read it?) and something like a ‘remote’ to manage music played in the car, through my mobile.

        In that context, it’s going to be iPhone first, Watch second, and it won’t happen the other way around. If you bought a Watch and didn’t intent to pair it with an iPhone, you’re possibly looking at it as something that tells you the time.

        Probably because I think jogging is an exercise for masochists.

    • def4

      That is profoundly stupid.
      You don’t carry your watch any more than you carry your clothes.
      And just like your clothes, you wear it during the day and put it away at night.
      If setting your watch on a charger on your nightstand is so inconvenient I wonder how you feel about washing your clothes.

    • kgelner

      You have to be insane of you desire the battery hit GPS & 3G brings. In a watch that probably means not even a full day of use is possible (heck the Moto360 can’t usually manage a full day)

  • AhmadZainiChia

    Steve Jobs at AllthingsD 2007:

    “We’re getting to the point where everything is a computer in a different form factor; so what? So what if it’s built with a computer inside it? It doesn’t matter. It’s “What is it?” “How do you use it?” How does a consumer approach it?”

    That last line, and the word “approach” is the most instructive here 🙂

    • Rob

      Beautifully said. That is why the consumer “approach” is initially defined by the “tentpole” features. Then consumers and developers run wild with it.

    • stefnagel

      The marketing question is What’s it do for me? The iPod delivered tunes; the iPhone delivered apps. The Watch will deliver us, our heartbeats, temp, and more. Our physical data will fuel its sales. Eventually.

      The difference? The Watch can only deliver simple and limited sensory data as it is. Not the massive and explosive data dumps that tunes were and apps soon were.

      Sensors, not software, that will eat the earth.

  • bobmonsour

    An excellent piece…

    What’s different about the watch launch language, however, is that both Tim Cook and Kevin Lynch, when talking about watchkit, said something along the lines of “we can’t wait to see what developers are going to do with this” and “we can’t even imagine what people will come up with.” At the time of the iPhone introduction, given it’s closed nature, there wasn’t the opportunity to say things like that.

  • stefnagel

    Just as tunes launched the iPod and apps became the fuel that launched the iPhone, sensory input from us and around us will be the cheap, plentiful, and meaningful fuel for launching the Watch. We are the latest, greatest form of digital media.

    • stefnagel

      As Kevin Fox tweeted today: “The original iPod sold for $400, required a Mac, and had a 10-hour battery.”

      • charly

        Problem with music player was that it was a dying market in 2001 as even back then most phones could play mp3’s. They just didn’t have the storage capabilities. The music industry hated mp3’s so any big electronics company would get to have to deal with the music industry, with which they all had deep contacts. So only new enterants could start up the industry and by the time it was big enough to be interesting (2004) it was obvious that it would die around 2010

      • r00fus

        > roblem with music player was that it was a dying market in 2001 as even back then most phones could play mp3’s.

        Now thats a bit of revisionist history unless you think a ringtone was “music”. Napster and Gnutella gained popularity in 2000, Morpheus and KaZaA showed up in 2001. Are you seriously thinking so many people were ripping their collection at that day? I doubt it. mp3 phone support was only mainstream years later – like 2004-ish – and even then not on feature phones except as ringtones.

        No, mainstream phones did not play mp3s as you suggest.

      • stefnagel

        Spot on.

      • River Brandon

        That is a meaningless stat. Those phones came with an add-on feature of playing MP3s, and they were terrible at it. It was simply a check-box for those device makers. What percentage of users frequently loaded music on those phones and used them for that purpose? Closer to 0% than 15%, I’d wager.

        You know what else is true? All Windows PCs for decades have had the ability to be used to develop software. That doesn’t make programming mainstream.

        So the thing that the iPod (plus iTunes) did was elevate the experience to the level that normal people (who were most certainly *not* ripping and downloading on Napster) would buy a digital music device and put their library on it.

        Napster wasn’t mainstream. Using a cell phone to listen to digital music files wasn’t mainstream. I don’t care how many phones were sold with the feature.

      • charly

        Napstar was mainstream. Everybody was ripping (and stealing) their music collection in 2000. Enough flash to be usable as an mp3 player was much to expensive in 2001. That is why almost al mp3 players in the bigging were HDD based. Why mp3 players became mainstream when usable flash based mp3 players (6GB) became affiordable and why mp3 players are now almost death because a 8GB SD card cost almost nothing

  • nsw

    “Phone is something I use so rarely that the interface sometimes baffles me.”

    This made me chuckle (good pull-quote for Kontra.)

    Anyway, the problem with the watch’s tentpoles is that people are not entirely convinced of the need for *any* of them, whereas the tentpoles for the iPhone were immediately compelling and awesome.

    • jinglesthula

      Everyone needs to know what time it is. (Almost) everyone wants to connect with other people. And health care costs and quality of life are compelling reasons to care about health/fitness.

      Actually, I think our relationships to ourselves, each other, and time are among the most compelling spaces to address.

      • nsw

        For many folks, time and communication are handled satisfactorily by existing devices (i.e., not clear how the watch does either of these *better*). Health monitoring is still “wait and see” for a majority of the population, regardless of the hand-wavy desirability of being healthy.

        I think Apple can pull this off, but it is fundamentally much tougher sledding than for the original iPhone IMHO.

    • Mark Jones

      That’s a bit of revisionist history. Few people thought internet communicator was needed. Phones and music players already existed, and even combined in many other cheaper smartphones (Nokia) of that time. Plus, unlike other smartphones, the early iPhones really required one to also have a PC or Mac.

      • JKL

        So how did you get your music onto those other smartphones if you didn’t use a PC/Mac?

  • jinglesthula

    Gruber noted that it took some time after iPhone was introduced for him to recognize it for what it was: a computer, rather than a phone. He said handset makers were probably dismissive because it had ‘phone’ in the name, and so failed to realize the asymmetry. Likewise, Apple Watch is not a watch, though ‘timepiece’ was an introductory tentpole.

    If Switzerland is in trouble, it isn’t because Watch is better at fashion or telling time – it’s because no one will wear a watch and a Watch.

    • Eric Swinson

      Exactly. Whether it be a traditional watch or smart watch, $350 or $1M, there is only one place on the wrist. Once you get used to the functionality wearing something that only keeps time will make you feel naked.

      • N

        I’m kind of shocked that people have forgotten how convenient it is to glance at your wrist to see the time. I anticipate setting up just four notifications on my Apple Watch — iMessage, Hangouts (my one Android friend), Phone, and Slack. Everything else can wait until I use my iPhone or iPad mini.

      • r00fus

        I wish I could *not* glance at my wrist to know the time. I’m talking to someone very important, but I also don’t want to be late to my next appointment/call…

        If somehow the buzzer could tell me the time – even if it’s as basic as buzzes every 15/30m…

    • Bernard Desarnauts

      I actually very much disagree. Today I wear a watch (swiss made) and a band (fitbit). If I buy the Apple “watch” it will for sure replace my Fitbit – not my watch – my watch is a beautiful object that reminds me of tons of emotions and I won’t part with it. Further the timekeeping piece of the A-Watch is the least useful feature of the platform IMHO – its most revolutionary is the comms layer w/ as Gruber pointed out a dedicated hardware button!! It will define a new generational language.

  • hypermark

    Good use of juxtaposition, but I think it misses the larger distinction. With iPhone, everyone aspired to a device that could collapse phone, internet and media into one cohesive experience. The questions were more along the lines of ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW.’

    By, contrast, Apple Watch is better compared to Google Glass in the regards that it represents a new **kind** of sensory device, with new types of jobs yet to be defined, and all of the requisite challenges of answering ‘WHY.’

    It’s much less obvious that consumers are demanding an integrated watch, communication companion (since iPhone/Android is so good) and health/fitness (still a bit of niche).

    I don’t think that that is a bad thing, per se, just that it makes more sense to compare missionary products (Glass & Watch) than fundamentally different kinds of disruptors (iPhone & Watch).

    • N

      Jobs predicted 10 million iPhones sold by the end of 2008. When Apple formally launches Apple Watch it’ll be telling if they pre-announce a sales goal or not.

  • Naofumi

    Thinking of what the jobs-to-be-done of a gift are…

    I conclude that the Apple Watch nails them all.

    Especially intimate communications.

    I would buy two for myself and my spouse.

  • poke

    I think the bigger question is whether you want apps on your wrist at all. Do we want to wear content? Does that make sense? I’m not convinced it makes sense to read, view or interact with content that’s attached to a body part. I’m not convinced that that’s what a “wearable” should be. It seems like a flawed vision. I expect the wearable category to be defined by sensors, location, orientation, etc, and not by interacting with a display (something you’d think would be minimised, not encouraged). Now, perhaps Apple Watch will do more of this sort of thing in the future, but it’ll have to compete for space with things like stocks, email, messaging, photos, etc; things that are better on display-centric devices.

    • Mark Jones

      Apps doesn’t have to be heavy content that is read or viewed for more than a very few seconds. You want “apps”, where this different kind of apps provide added functionality (jobs to be done) and the display or taptic provides a brief visual/aural confirmation, notice, question. Functionality should take advantage of the BLE, NFC, and the other included Watch sensors. It should also include those jobs where an iPhone (and its sensors/comms) is tapped into but where it is much much more convenient/efficient to leave your iPhone in your pocket or purse.

    • Walt French

      iPhone users guided app developers to the right answer on this Q VERY quickly. Why won’t it work w watch?

      • poke

        What I’m questioning is having apps at all. The app paradigm – user-launched software that takes over the device – is display-oriented and the examples where Apple has followed that model with its built-in apps display the less visionary aspects of the product.

        I think the key to wearable computing is to augment what the wearer is doing rather than give them something new to do. Turn by turn directions are a good example of that (and, of course, the Apple Watch does it in a really nice way with the haptic feedback). Health and fitness are good examples of that.

        Extensibility is still a possibility without apps, but do it through maps or context. What does my wearable do at location x or when I’m doing y? I think you really want to reduce interaction with the device as much as possible; as a way to access content, it’s severely lacking. Like I said, Apple can add stuff later, but it can’t take back its lack of caution with the launch product. The original iPhone was a more cautious product.

      • Walt French

        When mainframes were a Thing, I ran big stat packages, etc. Then came Excel-sized applications on desktops, Numbers type programs on the laptops, calculator-type apps on the iPhone.

        Nobody in their right mind would try to run regressions or even add up sales on a watch, but people still have the need to get selected scraps of information and/or touch base in short bursts. The apps will just be an order of magnitude less complex and that much quicker to access and run.

        The biggest 2 applications on my Mac are about 5GB each; on my iPhone, only iMovie is even 5% of those sizes. It wouldn’t surprise me to see a further order-of-magnitude drop for ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ. Size isn’t everyhting (heh) but it’ll serve for now as a rough clue.

    • Jeppe Prebensen

      When I read this post I immediately thought of Google Glass. Is it in a similar category to ‘wearing content’, or does it try to cross the divide?

      • poke

        It’s probably closer to the divide just in virtue of its limitations; it’s harder to treat Glass like a small smartphone.

    • psiberaktiv

      Apps will use unique tap “tones” to notify you silently without the need to look and poke at your watch.

      I can see Watch Tap me when there is a great deal per my defined preference at the Supermarket

      Taps to guide me to my car at the parking lot

      Taps when my hydration level is low

      Possibilities are endless.

      • Scott

        With apologies to Alfred, Lord Tennyson:

        Please tap me when my water’s low,
        When the phone rings, and the car’s lost;
        When Nilla Wafers drop in cost;
        When evening traffic’s running slow….

  • berult

    That one button below the digital crown will rule taptical friendship, taptical oneupmanship, …and the taptical pay pals and taptical pay dirts of one’s intimate life. The belly button, the crown jewel of the WATCH experience, embraced initially by tactical stealth…youth.

    A taptical hit in the making. A new language for the rest of us, tap-a-wrists galore, beats along Babel Roads, …on a Swift corollary.

    • psiberaktiv

      Yes, the next best thing to full blown Dildonics. I see Apple Watch becoming the defacto intimacy communications device for lovers, couples and your significant other. And yes, Samesung will come up with S-Tap shortly too.

  • Space Gorilla

    I have often wondered if Jobs was using a bit of misdirection on purpose. Of course it was an easy way to frame the original iPhone, but my first thought was “Holy crap, it’s a Mac in your pocket!” and it seemed like Jobs almost went out of his way to not call the iPhone a computer, a fact most competitors and analysts completely missed. Surely Jobs was aware that the iPhone was really a computer in your pocket, but he didn’t say that.

    Could be the same thing with the Watch, an easy way to frame the device without saying too much about what Apple thinks the true future of the watch is.

    • Mark Jones

      If Jobs would’ve called iPhone a computer, he would’ve invited a useless and distracting debate (flamewar) about whether it’s really a computer and whether Jobs had a RDF. Rather he focused on giving it the most common sense name – phone – because that’s what most mainstream consumers most expected in that form factor.

      Same for WATCH.

      • Space Gorilla

        Agreed. But I do think Jobs knew what he was doing and made sure not to call the iPhone a computer. I think the only reference was when he talked about it running a scaled down OSX.

        Your reasons make a lot of sense, I hadn’t thought of that angle, but you’re right, I think that was also part of it.

      • Mark Jones

        Definitely agree Jobs knew what he was doing. Just not as sure it was intentional misdirection; KISS would say he simply chose the best approach to market.

      • Rob

        I agree, but defined uses are good for the press AND consumers. They give the device an initial purpose beyond the desirable design factor. There are already pundits complaining there is no compelling use for the

      • ptmmac

        I think Jobs was not planning on making it as much of a computer when he first introduced it. Remember how tepid some of the original press and pundit reactions were to both the iPhone and the iPad? There was no extensive App store until the iPhone GS. Apps certainly were not seen as replacing part of the web. They were only supposed to be web apps to begin with.

        The jobs to be done by the Apple watch include: fashion statement, identification and security notifications, cloud access, and data collection. I also think more people will find the less obvious connectivity very useful. knowing where you are going based upon wrist touches will be really freeing.

        The next generation will have more battery life and the third generation will have stand alone connectivity.

      • Space Gorilla

        “They were only supposed to be web apps to begin with.”

        To be fair, that was just Jobs selling us on a limitation. Hey, web apps are really great, you’ll love them, blah blah blah. He knew they were crap.

      • Marco

        That’s not true. I read his bio, he really had to be convinced to develop the App Store. This happened after the initial launch I believe.

      • Space Gorilla

        I’m aware of that. How does that make my statement false?

      • Julian

        This is an interesting though, but is not reflective on how they approached the respective markets.

        In 2007, Apple tried to sell the iPhone unsubsidized in their own Apple stores like a computer. They learned that in order to have market success, the iPhone needed to be on multiple carriers and sold in carrier stores.

        Apple is very much positioning this like a watch. It’s being sold in stores. It’s been written about in fashion magazines. It will seemingly have watch prices.

        If Apple doesn’t consider this a watch, they’re not acting like they don’t.

      • Mark Jones

        I think you’re mixing three separate things.

        1. I think Apple knew iPhone needed to be on multiple carriers, but Apple also believed they could not have success if they sacrificed their absolute control over the iPhone design, system, and branding to the carriers. Thus, the AT&T exclusive because Verizon wouldn’t agree to it. And it was sold in AT&T stores from day one. In time, all major carriers, including Verizon, China Mobile and NTT DoCoMo, have yielded to Apple’s key demands for control.

        2. Rather than an upfront per-unit subsidy like other cellular phones, the first AT&T agreement had AT&T pay Apple a portion of the monthly data fees. I don’t know if AT&T or Apple or both wanted it this way, but since it differed from the status quo, I’d wager it was Apple. Apple clearly understood the value of a ongoing revenue stream. And thus iPhone was not priced like computers, although you are correct that it was also not initially priced like cellular phones were in the USA. Ultimately, this approach didn’t work because the upfront cost differential to other cell phones was too high for consumers.

        3. Apple positioned the iPhone as a phone, and they are positioning WATCH as a watch because that’s what most mainstream customers expect in that form factor. But they know it’s not just a watch, just as they knew iPhone was not just a phone. They are both computers hidden inside a mainstream product. For the same reason, Apple dropped Computer from its corporate name, because people expect computers to be of a certain form (i.e., desktop, laptop), and Apple was planning to sell them computers in lots of non-computer-like forms.

    • Walt French

      I believe it was also at the iPhone intro that Jobs *dropped* “Computer” from the company name, saying that soon, almost everything would have computer intelligence in it, so the distinction was meaningless.

      • Space Gorilla

        Could be Jobs was simply moving on and framing the iPhone in an easy way, and it’s just me interpreting it as misdirection. But if I recognized it as a Mac in your pocket, then I’m quite sure Jobs did too, and I suppose he decided that wasn’t the right way to pitch it.

    • Guest

      Don’t forget: that’s the same keynote where he announced that Apple Computer, Inc was becoming Apple, Inc. – dropping the Computer from the company name officially.

      It wasn’t a misdirection. It was intentional.

      • Space Gorilla

        Yes, I don’t mean it was a mistake by Jobs. When I say ‘misdirection’ I mean it helped to confuse competitors, by intentionally not framing the iPhone as a computer in your pocket. It took many analysts years to figure that out. There are lots of people today in 2014 that don’t believe the iPhone is a computer.

        That was Blackberry’s key failure, not recognizing that the iPhone was a computer and not immediately scrapping the current Blackberry devices and starting from scratch. Instead they laughed at the iPhone and declared that Apple was lying about the capabilities of the iPhone. Still, what could Blackberry have done? They don’t make computers. I’m probably being too generous to suggest they could have done anything to avoid their decline.

      • abu

        “That was Blackberry’s key failure, not recognizing that the iPhone was a computer”

        Oh they did realize that very well, and were very scared.

        What they kept repeating to the media was very different from the conversations they had internally.

        Lazaridis has been quoted recalling that he was saying to his staff “If that thing catches on, we’re competing with a Mac, not a Nokia”

        [The Globe and Mail]

      • Harry

        “It took many analysts years to figure that out.”

        That is EXACTLY the reasons that NO ONE should base their investment decisions on anal lyst recommendations. Use anal lyst reports for an overview of the company in question & the company financials. Make the buy/sell decisions on YOUR investment knowledge.


      • Space Gorilla

        Agreed. My family bought a bunch of Apple stock in 2008 at around $100, based on my understanding of how important the iPhone was going to be. I am loving the increase in value and the 7 for 1 split. And we just bought more Apple stock. I’m confident it’s going to be a great long term investment.

  • TJ

    If you just use slightly different words, then the iPhone tent poles are still valid. “A music and video device, a communication device, and an Internet connectivity device.” Those are a mouthful, but still perfectly valid. In many ways the tent poles for

  • N

    I’m surprised you used anecdotal evidence. We replaced our office VoIP phones with iPhones. I don’t make many calls with my personal iPhone but I routinely log more than 1,500 minutes per month in telephone calls on my work iPhone.

    I’m not the only one replacing dumb VoIP phones with smart iPhones. Business still runs on email (mostly external) and telephone (mostly internal). Plus we also use Slack internally.

    If you’re talking about consumers never mind though you should talk to more people outside technology circles. The killer apps are Camera and Photos and sharing of photos via iCloud and other photo-oriented apps. The Camera was not a tent pole but it was important from the start.

  • Currawong (Amos)

    “Watch” is verb that became a noun. We watch a lot of things these days, not just the time.

    • Jeppe Prebensen

      And do our horological devices really ‘tell’ us the time? What does your watch ‘say’?

  • obarthelemy

    I think there’s a profound difference between a smartphone, which replaces a dumbphone, a PDA, an MP3 player, a portable console, and for phablets also a media player and an ebook reader, maybe a netbook in a pinch; and a smartwatch that replaces nothing for most people, at best a regular watch (worn for fashion, not functionality) and a fitness tracker (the less-than-half of them that are actually used).
    Use cases for smartphones were crystal-clear from the outset. Use cases for smartwatches aren’t.
    Smartphones ended up being more than the sum of their functional “parts” because the combination of apps and quasi-permanent connectivity brought exponential and new possibilities. But they had a solid base to grow up from. Smartwatches might end up being as useful, but their base is a lot more shaky: look cool, track vitals, act as a remote+ID for the phone… I’m not needing/wanting any of those, and a quick poll around me confirms I’m in the overwhelming majority.
    Maybe I’m in need of a cognitive leap. Maybe OEMs need to show me where the meat is before I bother with the expense, time, and… charger… for yet another gizmo. And the bar is high: I have trouble using my BT headset because wired is a lot less cumbersome. Also, for payment and medical info, the system needs to be at the same time very open (as in, cross-platform and supported by all involved professionals) and very closed (as in, safer than celebrities’ nude pics). We’re clearly not there yet. As much as I rushed to get the first MP3 player, the first PDA, one of the first smartphones, the first phablet et seq… smartwatches leave me indifferent. Maybe I’m getting old. More probably, they’re not useful yet.

    • Viking

      I find many instances where the size of my phone (I have an iPhone 5s) is much to big. Like this past summer when I would go to the beach with my kids, or when we go biking through the neighbourhood most evenings. I also go out a fair bit in simple shorts and a t-shirt; perhaps to do a quick shop. I find the size of my phone and where to put it to be quite annoying. And it will only get worse as we move to 4.7 and 5.5 inch screens. Having a wrist device that performs simple tasks just might be what I am looking for.

      • TechJunkie

        Second that. I might actually buy the Samsung Gear S as it is standalone 3G phone with GPS, unlike Apple Watch. A smaller iPhone in armband case could be another solution.

      • KirkBurgess

        So you are going to pay for a 2nd cellular contract for your watch?

      • obarthelemy

        The question is what simple tasks. Most smartwatches are only connected via their smartphone (no Data, no Wifi) and have very little local storage. Away from their phone, their utility is drastically lower.
        The only brand-name exception is the (Tizen) Samsung Gear S, wich has Data, Wifi, 4GB of Flash and a GPS. There also are a few no-name full android monstrosities.

      • Alan

        When the iPhone was announced there were many similar complaints: no 3G, no camera, needed to connect to a computer before it could even be used. People questioned the utility of the built in apps, the quality of the phone connection, the battery life was terrible compared to Blackberry and others. I think I even recall something about it not showing the “real” web because of something called Flash. And the keyboard…have there every been as many articles written on any tech subject as the innate horrible-ness of a touchscreen keyboard? It was predetermined to be a failure by a lot of people. So the question isn’t “is this device a substitute for smartphones for a large percentage of people”, the question is “is this device able to sell to enough people to keep the product alive and growing”. No one expects the watch to replace their phones yet. But like the iPhone grew a camera, 3G and then 4G, independence from the Mac I see the watch gaining 4G data, GPS, and additional sensors over time. And getting thinner. The primary simple task initially will be communication. One button press, pick your contact from a zoomable grid, choose text message, voice, or pictures, and go. Why? It saves steps. 1 – don’t have to remove from pocket, 2 – don’t have to click anything to power it on, 3 – don’t have to open a lock screen, 4 – don’t have to exit out of whatever app you were in, 5 – don’t have to pick a new app (yes, in many cases this might only be 2 steps, but it’s still 2 steps). Steps saving is a key to new technology adoption. Older people will decry this waste of money and resources, younger people will complain when they have to do 2 extra steps to send a text message. That’s my thought at least.

      • obarthelemy

        Indeed. Hopefully smartwatches will also evolve into something useful to more people.
        I personally would jump for universal proximity ID/SSO for all my devices and apps (no more logins !). The rest is more iffy/marginal: a dupe of my phone that only activates when my phone is not very close by (no more doubling back because of a forgotten phone), payments (once they are proven safe, and universally accepted), RSS reader so I can dismiss the 80% of items I don’t even open…

      • charly

        You want that $10 Xiaomie wrestband

      • obarthelemy

        Nope: it only unlocks my phone, which I don’t even lock these days: a remote wipe+lock is 5 minutes away if it gets stolen.
        I want something to unlock my PC, my laptop, my netbook, my tablet, and app-wise my email, Steam, the websites I’m subscribed to, etc.

      • obarthelemy

        Reminds me of the French saying “Il est urgent d’attendre”: we must urgently wait.

    • obarthelemy

      Thinking more about it, I’ve got a huge UI issue. A watch not only can’t be used one-handed, but forces a very visible and awkward posture, and a painfully small screen, obscured by the finger touching it. The whole thing is a lot more awkward than taking out my smartphone.

      I’m sure there are use cases where that doesn’t matter… But few of them, since this means any interaction is cumbersome.

      Voice won’t fix that. I could talk to my PC 20 yrs ago, it works, but it’s slow and awkward in my office. I can’t imagine doing it in public.
      The best way I could think up to partially fix that is to deport input to a touchring on the other hand’s index finger. That way I can unobtrusively glance at my watch and scroll+tap it via the ring with my other hand’s thumb. That’s a whole lot of ugly e-jewellery to… adorn… myself with though.

      • digitalking

        “a painfully small screen, obscured by the finger touching it”

        You should invent some kind of digital crown.

      • Mark Jones

        Yes, there is the digital crown to avoid obscuring the screen, but there are many many use cases where the usage sequence is either:
        a, glance at display or sense vibration, then multiple-choice response from choices shown on watch
        b. glance at display or sense vibration, but no response needed on watch (i.e., possibly take physical action like turn right or grab an umbrella; recognize an alarm)
        c. glance at display or sense vibration, then make decision whether to removing iPhone from pocket or purse to respond now, read further, open app, etc.
        d. move arm, then optionally sense vibration or glance at watch display (i.e. pay in store, pay for train/bus, unlock/lock door, etc)
        e. lift arm, ask Siri to accomplish task (i.e. make phone call, send text/tweet, open/close garage door, etc)

        In b, c, d, and e, the watch advantage is its hands-free (and there are plenty of circumstances where hands-free is important). a. is two-handed but can also be hands-free when using a one-word oral watch response (and that will not be seen as awkward to others because your hands are busy/full.)

        Plus you are now able to do many things without keeping your iPhone near you, such as when you’re home. And when you decide its needed, you can seamlessly move the watch activity to iPhone, iPad, or Mac through Continuity/Handoff.

  • PapayaSF

    I’d bet that Apple’s roadmap for this includes a future version that does not need an iPhone nearby to work. Eventually, Moore’s Law will enable it to be an iPhone all by itself. Battery life is a big issue, but note that a while ago, Apple patented a flexible battery that looks like it could be built into a watch strap.

    • Prof. Peabody

      One only has to look at the video Samsung created for the release of their first Smart Watch, that depicts the history of the concept of the “futuristic” wrist watch, to see that the number one use for such a device is communication.

      The smart watch will eventually be the phone. This much is obvious and it’s really just a question of how many versions of the Watch there is before the sim is in the watch, and not the phone.

      A lot of folks will now have an Watch, an iPhone, and an iPad. How long before Apple allows us to ditch the iPhone and just use an iPad and an Watch? For me this can’t come soon enough. The Watch on version one, will basically replace everything I use my phone for, with the exception of that one actual telephone call I get every couple of months or so.

  • hipster

    Will ‘Watch’ category follow ‘bigger is better’ principle?

  • Nangka

    With Siri & map, Apple Watch will disrupt guide dogs.

  • AriWeinstein

    Internet appliance != Internet communicator. I’m pretty sure Jobs never said appliance.

  • Ross Shannon

    I don’t think it’s right to say that the “Internet Communicator” aspect has been obviated over time. That didn’t just cover Safari — it’s all protocols: HTTP, HTTPS, IMAP etc.; it’s anything coming over the wire. Every time you use an app that connects to a server, that’s the “Internet Communicator” part of the iPhone in action. It’s interesting when you go back and watch the original keynote, and that part of the three tentpoles introduction (“A widescreen iPod… a Phone… and a breakthrough Internet Communicator”) got sortof a muted response from the audience, even though that ended up being by far the most important aspect of the original iPhone.

  • vincent_rice

    The aWatch represents something at Apple that people don’t seem to have picked up – the move to engage in fashion. This is a seismic shift with all the attendant possibilities and dangers. Apple products under Ive were designed to be ‘neutral’ – beautiful and desirable in their own right but resolutely fixed in a Ive out-of Dieter Rams aesthetic. The aWatch changes everything and if the rumours are true the next Air will be available in iPhone colours.

    You only have to look at who Apple has hired over the past year to see where things are going. The big question is why?

    • Stephen Johnson

      Ive’s watch introduction video slightly reminded me of something off a shopping channel, it felt quite different to the previous Apple style, and seemed to be more of an emphasis on the physicality. To be fair, Apple are on a different level from other tech companies when it comes to use of materials etc and it would be hard to imagine say Samsung investing time and care in a strap in the same way. I suspect the fashion for straps will change over time, and there may well be a market of “exclusive” watch face apps with inflated price tags that serve to display status (like the “I’m rich” app on the iPhone)

    • StevenDrost

      Apple has always been focused on design. It’s the market that’s shifted to where Apple has always been. If anything a premium designed, intimately personal piece of electronics is the distilled essence of Jobs.

  • Sumocat

    I think the main tentpole is the one that stood alone in the event: Apple Pay. It will be interesting to see how the success (or failure) of one affects the other. Will Watch adoption drive Pay adoption or vice versa?

    Aside from that, I believe the main device-specific tentpole going forward will be health. I just finished two surgeries and know there’s a lot of data to be collected from the wrist. Pulse is just the start. Pressure, temperature, glucose, even alcohol level, lots of room for innovation in this area, plenty of space to grow.

    • Walt French

      Sumocat wrote, “Pulse is just the start. Pressure, temperature, glucose, even alcohol level, lots of room for innovation in this area, plenty of space to grow.”

      Trouble is, pulse is the only of these reliably measured at the wrist. Without having enough background, it seems that all sphygmomanometers require a cuff to block flow; the glucose tests are quite indirect and not reliable; temperatures are highly dependent on ambient temp, clothing & activity. Mostly, if you need this info for actual medical monitoring, you need much better indications than the best non-invasive tech that has been developed so far.

      And outside the range of people with direct medical concerns, I barely get the appeal of pulse. On a Stairmaster, I aim for my target and sometimes get reminded to increase my effort. But mostly, I get a LOT of feedback by how winded and/or hot I am; I never miss the pulse scores when running.

      So yes, “lots of room for innovation” for a target market, but not much likelihood that that monitoring will be part of ᴡᴀᴛᴄʜ I or II.

      • Sumocat

        Well, no, I don’t mean these are coming in the next couple years. These are long-term growth areas. But the seeds for some of this have already been planted.

        Hospitals measure temperature by swiping a digital thermometer across your head. They read oxygen levels through a band-aid-thick sensor on a fingertip. Glucose and alcohol monitors that rely on sweat are in development now. The technology is coming. Apple needs to figure out how to move it to the wrist.

        I’m also thinking the tech will grow into the bands. Eventually, there will be smart bands to measure pressure.and/or ID you with vein matching biometrics. I see more options for Apple Watch bands beyond fashion..

      • Sacto_Joe

        There are two growth paths here, just like there were with the iPhone. One is software, the other is hardware. For example, I was thinking about the possibility of wearing sensors on all four extremities. That would allow “tracking” of movement in space. It might also allow one to “sense” the time it takes a pulse to flow from a wrist to an ankle, which might be a way to pick up blood pressure, or circulation, etcetera.

        Getting on the wrist in a useful, aesthetically pleasing way is, IMHO, huge for Apple, not so much for today as for the future.

      • Space Gorilla

        I’ve read that the ear lobe is a good place for gathering medical data. Not sure what kinds though.

      • Sacto_Joe

        Interesting. I was just thinking about earpieces. I’ve reached an age where hearing aids are nearly unavoidable. But if you have to have them, why not use them to take measurements as well?

      • Space Gorilla

        Or wicked cool clip on ear jewellry, something I could wear anywhere, while sleeping, swimming, etc.

      • r00fus

        Ears+Fashion+Tech = where Apple should go.

        Earrings – but super high tech earrings that do fantastic health monitoring and, btw they look fantastic.

      • barryotoole

        Earlobe is indeed a good place for collecting certain medical data because of the rich capillary flow, like in a fingertip.

        Usually, oxygen saturation is measured by spectrophotometry: the relative absorption of red (absorbed by oxygenated blood) and infrared (absorbed by deoxygenated blood) light of the systolic component of the absorption waveform correlates to arterial blood oxygen saturations.

        The Oximeters direct their attention at pulsatile arterial blood and ignore local noise from the tissues. The result is a continuous qualitative measurement of the patients oxyhemoglobin status. These devices deliver data about pulse rate, oxygen saturation, and even cardiac output.

        They are, however, far from perfect monitors. While they are set up to measure oxygenated and deoxygenated hemoglobin, but no provision is made for measurement error in the presence of situations like abnormal movement. Since the WATCH is supposed to be used while exercising, I don’t know how it will compensate if this feature becomes available in the future.

        A lot of research is being conducted on Pulse Glucometry, which is based on differential near infrared spectrophotometry, a principle similar to pulse oximetery.

        I see both these parameters to be measurable by WATCH in the near future. Since it will be entering medical territory, there’ll be a lot of FDA oversight and pressure to meet HIPPA requirements, but I don’t see why Apple can’t pull it off.

        The measurement of blood pressure, on the other hand, is a bit more tricky without using devices such as sphygmomanometer. There have been some attempts to derive BP from heart rate and blood flow measurements from an oximeter, but the results have not been very reliable.

  • Just Me

    We need to remember that Apple didn’t make all the apps for the iPhone. They gave the developers the tools and let them do the work. Same with the Apple Watch. They have given the developers the tools and set them loose. The developers will come up with apps and add-on hardware to measure all those medical metrics we want. We just need to be patient.

  • Walt French

    The crown is a nice, distinctive touch, albeit in an oddly bring-back-skeuomorphism sort of way. (It neither winds the spring nor adjusts the clock, does it?).

    So with all the thought that went into it, I wonder why the crown instead of a sidebar—a touch-sensitive top/side—that would perform exactly the same functions as the crown, like the scrolling area on the rhs of a window? Since a scrollbar is SO familiar to iOS and OSX users (the only customers for the watch), it’s not a training wheels issue.

    Any Asymco readers have thoughts?

    • berult

      As a metaphorical object, it’s a double whammy. Full blown classic-watch material, and a trumpeted invocation of the click-wheel genius trait. A wink-wink marriage between the inventiveness of generations past, and the cleverness of yesteryear.

      As a physical object, it offers just as much irregular resistance to one’s touch experience as to offer soothing relief from ethereal fatigue.

      As a functional object…to paraphrase one’s classic locution…a round pole on a square deck. Home sweet home, at the click of the…crowned. A sort of merry-go-round atop a rectangular playground.

      All in all, the choice of an esthetic to ensconce genesis of intimate functions. One has to tread very carefully before venturing, wrist-on, into intimacy. I reckon they did. With panache, and, circumspection.

    • obarthelemy

      Especially since it also looks ugly off-center, and brings up stressful memories of teen me so afraid to bend or rip out the tiny thing.

      • aesthete

        I’m not sure I trust your sense of æsthetics but, either way, I’m sure there’s a good reason for it to be off-center, as it’s very deliberately placed.

    • N

      I don’t think Apple has a problem with physical skeuomorphism. Just look at the name of the product.

      From a user experience perspective, you want to control tbe watch without having to take it off your wrist. This explains the thickness of the watch, which provides a gap between your arm and the digital crown. The digital crown gives you a handle that turns easily in both directions. I don’t think buttons would work as well in this context.

      Needless to say, I’m impressed and can’t wait to get my hands, well, arm on one.

    • Tim Sweetman

      I imagine the digital crown was tested against other scrolling mechanisms, and was found favourable. The old iPods’ click wheels, of various kinds, seemed to work very well for scrolling through lists, even large ones. Perhaps a sensitive top/side would be too easy to activate by accident, or hard to control finely? Similarly, I imagine the crown’s off-centre because it’s … easier to reach there (the watch is mostly flat, right, whereas a wrist is rounded, so further out would be easier to turn). Simple as that.

    • Marco

      I’m not sure it is skeuomorphism.

      Watches have been around for a long time, and the crown has always been used a the primary input device on a watch. Why is that? Because of physics and mechanical reasons? Could be, But also I think it’s a very user friendly way to interact with a device on your wrist. It’s been tested for decades. Why throw that away?

      In fact, I’m sure that it’s not skeuomorphism. It’s borrowing from decades of experience in user interaction with wearable wrist devices.

      • Walt French

        My dictionary defines a skeumorph as “an object or feature which imitates the design of a similar artifact in another material.”

        What better captures the Apple Watch’s crown, which does not perform either of the two functions (winding and setting the time) of the original knob?

  • Vladimir

    Few late thought on Apple Watch.
    First, I would argue that “Apple did it again”, you know, invented new UI. Digital Crown is additional tool/button, not a way to move through the interface. It replaces some functions (zoom, scroll maybe) and not all of them like multi-touch, like Click-wheel or even mouse (truth, mouse is combined with keyboard but for the text input only, not necessarily for navigation through the OS).
    Then, crown as an all time element of a watch is the last thing I would like to see on a smartwatch. It is painful (literally) little thing that stick into your hand when bending it (riding bicycle, push-ups, holding kids,…). It is reminiscent of a watch, very romantic indeed, but smartwatch should be different beast, one of a 21st century, piece of modern design. Jony Ive cannot easily shake off that skeuomorphism, I understend the power of it for the masses. Moto 360 has the same design flow, although its circular form factor is suprisingly compatible with the smartwatch functions overall. But the crown there is even more wrong than on the Apple Watch.
    I agree with Horace strongly that it is a tent pole. It is Apple way to trow on the wall and see what sticks. While Samsung introduced billion smartphone sizes and only one smartwatch size, Apple waited to see the results of Samsungs campain to chose sizes for its new smarphones, but investigates the smarwatch sizes itself. The straps are magnificent and if they hold on for a decade in that form you could see the Apple Watch 2 coming without it, and people having dozens of those for the appropriate occasions. Its a tentpole for fashion industry to come aboard. In that sense the design of hardware should be neutral, leaving users to decide on it by choosing the themes and the straps.
    And here we come to the point. Who cares about replacing smartphone by watch at this point? For now, its a fashion statement, with some basic functions. If they try to make it comunication device (at this stage) they will lose against smartphone. Voice commands are here long enough but never became the default option. Only useful additional tool for when you are alone. Typing on a watch, showing pictures on a watch, and talking on a watch are deceptions. Watch is for glanceing. That much you can see on it. If you are on a bicycle, if you have to stop and explore the map you are gonna do it on smartphone better anyway, so your smartwatch in order to compete with the smartphone should show enough information at a glance, thus it needs different kind of maps. Haptic feedback is great way to enhance that but the screen should be utilised too. Like, “you pass 7/11 and then you go left/right”, where 7/11 should stick in your eyes from the smartwatch screen.
    Same with the comunication. The haptic feedback can be usefull when need to fine tune the timing. “I just left the house”, “I am in the front, waiting”, “go in front, I am arriving” and such. Screen should scream when your train is going, what platform from while you change the lines and such. If it needs interaction and precise input (on a 1,6 inch screen) then it is not usefull. For instance, you order taxy from the smartphone, but on a watch you see when it is coming. Or you have “fast dialing” on your watch for that function which you use a lot. Gesture should do.
    If we think of a smartwatch as a great potential for productivity we should think in these terms, and that is utilizing its screen for what it can show at a glance only, with no or blind input. It should compete with smartphone for the user’s attention only in categories it can actually win, not by bringing on your wrist the same content as 5,5 inch display can bring. I am affraid I can’t think of anything better at this moment, with this technology.