“… is the next big thing!” is a common phrase we hear thrown about in tech. Most of them never really become “the next big thing” and die by the wayside, either due to high costs, too small a niche, or just disinterest from the general public.
The Apple Watch was never called “the next big thing”, there was interest when rumours started floating about the first Watch but no one really believed it would be the next big thing.
In fact, the Apple Watch never really caught on in the way the iPad or Airpods did. Apple’s marketing strategy for the Watch had initially been similar to the iPhone — they sold it on the brand name.
This strategy works for the iPhone because people are already aware of the usefulness of a phone, a smartwatch? Not so much.
I thought the same when the Apple Watch was first announced. It was an expensive timepiece that did not look as good as even a cheap $60 watch, and it seemed to be nothing more than a glorified notification hub.
Apple still hasn’t really found the sweet spot in marketing the Apple Watch in my opinion but it’s getting there.
I bought the Apple Watch Series 4 on New Year’s Day as a way to keep track of my fitness. Even at the point of purchase I remained skeptical about the usefulness of the Watch and questioned why I was shelling so much money when there are FitBits out there for much less.
I justified it with the reasoning that it would integrate a lot better with my iPhone and Apple Health much better than a FitBit would.
About a month in, I was sold. The Apple Watch is amazing and Apple really needs to get across how useful it is.
I understand how hard it is to market the Watch though. Writing this piece is already hard enough to get across how useful the Watch is in day to day tasks.
Much of it sounds very menial and something you could do without, but its impact on your day to day is actually really significant.
There’s been a lot of news about how the Apple Watch has helped saved the lives of many, especially thanks to its nifty ECG feature — which wasn’t available here during the time I had the watch. The health features of the device really makes it so much more, and yes I realise that a lot of other fitness trackers have similar features too.
What’s impressive about Apple’s is the seamless way it integrates into the ecosystem and your life. You quite literally set the watch up and leave it to do its magic.
From the mundane step counter to the impressive stress measurements, it is a handy tool for many. If you suffer from anxiety like myself, the Apple Watch is a godsend.
I’ve suffered from anxiety for so much of my life and would think of myself as pretty in tune with it. But boy was I wrong. I don’t even know how many times the Watch caught me going into panic even before I did. A handy little notification about heart rate and subsequently a breathing reminder, the Watch actually prevented a fair bit of panic attacks.
Controlled breathing is a common coping mechanism with anxiety but it can be very hard to do in the mess of an anxiety attack, especially when the only thing to guide you along is yourself. More often than not, I find myself going into worse anxiety trying to control my breathing.
The Apple Watch lifts that burden off you and guides you through a breathing exercise. With a series of vibrations, it lets you know when to breathe in, out, and hold your breath. Handy is not a sufficient description of its capabilities.
The Watch would also regularly remind me to breathe. Every now and then it would nudge me to take a moment which I found incredibly helpful. It’s very easy for us to forget to stop and take a break when we work, especially with all the stressors and demands going around.
I found that this nudging helped control my stress levels throughout the workday and kept me level headed through even the most demanding of work days. Some people might find this nudging to be annoying but you can turn it off.
Things like this I know I need to do, but before the Watch I had barely done it. Reminding me to take a break allowed me to breathe, rest my eyes, and properly hydrate myself. It allowed me to actually take care of my body during work, something I never thought would be properly doable.
Of course the Watch also does its other duties really well too. From sending notifications and keeping track of your runs and telling the time, it’s quite hard to fault the Watch for how well it does everything and how it seamlessly blends into your life.
Maybe there are devices out there that bring this level of usability as well, but I can’t speak of them as the only smartwatch I have ever properly used was the Apple Watch.
I wanted to get another to replace my Apple Watch but reviews of other devices point to them all being flawed devices. Trying other watches like the Galaxy Watch Active in stores also made me realise how well done the Apple Watch is.
You’re probably wondering by now, why I got rid of my Apple Watch if it was so good. One reason — the iPhone.
I damaged my iPhone and the cost of repairs was so high I could buy a new phone with the same money. So I decided against it, sold the iPhone and got myself a Pixel 3XL. This meant the Apple Watch became useless because it only works with the iPhone — which is regrettable. I really wanted to keep it.
Perhaps the biggest evidence to the usefulness of the Apple Watch for me is in how my anxiety was managed. In the half a year I had it, my anxiety attacks dropped significantly and I was able to better manage it.
Without the Watch now, I find myself not managing as well as I did with the Watch. It’s not that I can’t manage my anxiety well, before the Watch I managed well enough. With the Watch, I managed better. Now without it, again, I’m doing only well enough.
It always aggravated me how I couldn’t always control my anxiety and the Apple Watch changed that for me.
I flip between iOS and Android, I don’t feel any allegiance to any platform the way some people do. I never would have thought that the Apple Watch is what would make me want to stick with iOS. If I do switch back to iOS again down the line it would be because of the Apple Watch.
Much of what the Apple Watch brings to users is quality of life improvements. It is hard to market these improvements when it isn’t immediately obvious.
Apple still has a comfortable lead over the competition in the smart wearables space. But with competitors like Samsung catching up with acclaimed devices like the Galaxy Watch Active 2, Apple needs to crack the smartwatch marketing formula sooner rather than later.
The ingredients are all there, all they need to do is to be able to get its usefulness across properly. The Apple Watch will then be so much bigger than it has ever been.