This Week in Tablets: Apple’s iWatch is an important part of the tablet ecosystem

February 16, 2013

This week, I heard from a reader who talked about the immense frustration he felt during a tablet strategy meeting for a second screen application.

Unnamed reader couldn’t get a word in during the meeting during which everyone voiced a strong opinion about the company’s tablet strategy, specifically the highly experimental but signature iPad app.

Here’s the problem: When our reader looked around the conference table, he realized that most of the people talking not only did not use tablets on a regular basis, but they knew nothing about the central topic that the second screen application was an offshoot of.

I’m betting that if you’re reading this column, you’ve probably experienced this same phenomenon. You’ve seen the moment where non-tablet users jump on the bandwagon in order to preserve their job, their careers, their something. Maybe you’ve even seen these same self-preservationists adapt quickly enough to become bona fide tablet evangelists.

In 12-18 months, so many people will own tablets that the ignorant tablet advocate will have all but disappeared. At the very least, second screen usage will have matured to the point where there are some fairly entrenched behaviors in place.

It’s even possible that Windows and Android will be more trusted and more dominant by then.

Enter Apple's iWatch

Whatever the case, Apple will certainly remain in a strong position. And, if rumors are to be believed about the iWatch, the company will have moved onto third screen experiences by then.

If the rumors are true, the iWatch is a smart move for a number of reason, the biggest being that many people wish they had a reason to wear a watch.

Beyond any potential pent-up fashion demand, the iWatch would instantly become an important controlling device for the iPhone and iPad, and probably Apple TV as well.

Within a few days of the Apple watch rumors blooming, former Apple employee Bruce Tognazzini put up a great post describing the many ways such a device could enhance our lives, including password controls, NFC, and music.

Almost all of his ideas involve using the watch to control another Apple phone or tablet. This makes sense—in order to make a wearable computer with a sensible battery life, you’d have to offload compute functions to bigger devices.

In this regard, the iWatch only makes sense if you already have existing Apple products, which makes it an excellent product from the business perspective.

The contrarian perspective is that an iWatch is nothing new, and that it will add to the clutter of our lives vs. simplify it. I’m not buying this argument. Even a simple BlueTooth relay from a phone to a headset would be much appreciated by many, and there are far more potential options than this.

Whatever the case, the iWatch could not exist without the iPhone and iPad stacked beneath it.

Ultimately, the success of an iWatch will begin with aesthetic design. For many people, watches are fashion accessories first, so if Apple could get this part right, such a device would be off to a great start. The trick will be crafting a design that has some sembleance of universal appeal.

Assuming Apple gets this right, the rest is pretty much a no-brainer. The ability to access and control a TV, smartphone, or tablet without having to pull it out would be much appreciated by many people, including me.

This week’s loser: Microsoft

News that HP might be abandoning Windows in its upcoming line of tablets is a blow for Microsoft. HP’s tablet line-up, which will feature Nvidia’s Tegra 4 chip, will apparently be Android-based.

The potential shift is a blow to Microsoft to be sure. Unfortunately for Microsoft, it’s not surprising, given the launch of the Surface tablet as well as the potential embrace of Dell.

I still think Microsoft is on the right track. Despite the dings Windows 8 is taking, people who are using these tablets like them. And between Lenovo, Microsoft’s first-party devices, and more, the mobile incarnation of Windows feels like it’s taking hold. 

This week’s winner: Apple

The company dominated headlines with rumors swirling around the iWatch, and numerous stories of iPad usage by the likes of Kobe Bryant, New Jersey firefighters, and government officials. Even UC Irvine medical students using iPads are scoring higher on exams.

It’s no guarantee that there is truth to the rumors, but for now, the very notion of the iWatch has injected new energy into Apple’s corner.

On the horizon

A lot of tablet action is coming over the next few weeks. TabTimes very own TABLET STRATEGY event is taking place in the San Francisco Bay Area this coming Wednesday. A few highlights are the keynote by Lenovo ThinkPad Director Tom Butler, a BYOD panel, and another keynote interview by Box VP Chris Yeh.

Also on the very same day: Sony will be announcing or, at the very least, announcing the announcement of the PlayStation 4, which will certainly feature some kind tablet/smartphone/second screen functionality. 


Load More