Back in February, I wrote an article about the Apple Watch, and how it is Apple´s first potentially disruptive innovation since the launch of the iPad five years ago. My main point was that the Apple Watch, in true Apple style, was positioned as a status and fashion item more than as a functional item.
Disruptive innovation means the product will create a new market and value network, and eventually disrupts an existing market and value network, displacing earlier technology. In the case of the Apple Watch, it is the integration between the Watch and the iPhone and other Apple products like the MacBook, the iPad and the Apple TV that creates a stronger value network than the competitors Android based devices does.
But in order for the Apple Watch to achieve this, it needs to actually be useful. So what can make it useful for the wearer, considering that it will not really have standalone apps?
It seems the application model for the watch is that all that is going on on the screen of the watch will interact with main applications on the iPhone. Well, of course it will also have watch functionality, but that is not why people will buy it. Therefore, the phone will need apps that are really useful extensions of the corresponding iPhone app. It will need what in marketing terminology is called “killer apps”.
A killer application (commonly shortened to “killer app”) is a program that is so necessary or desirable that it proves the core value of the host technology. My colleague Marlena Zakrzewska wrote an article the other day about some of the 3,500 apps that are already available for the watch, and she concluded that so far, there are no “killer apps”.
Apple seems to think that notifications will be the “killer app”. At the moment, all of us with smart phones frequently hear a buzz or a vibration from our phone, and we then need to look at the screen of the phone, maybe even enter the passcode, to see what we are notified about. This can be a source of unwanted distraction as it takes time and is noticed by people in the work environment around us.
With notifications instead appearing on the watch screen, so we can see them just by lifting our arm is if to check the time, that is in theory both less time consuming and more discreet.
For myself I think if I eventually get an Apple Watch, and I say eventually because this is one device that I will not get as a pioneer but rather in a later model after it is developed for a year or two, then the main reason will be just this. It will be an easier and less disturbing way to check notifications.
Below is a video from Wall Street Journal with a reporters view of what can be the “killer app”.